Blur will play their first North American show since 2013 – and only their third on the continent since 2003 – at Brooklyn's Music Hall of Williamsburg this Friday, May 1st. The gig came together quickly after the band booked a Tonight Show performance for this Thursday, says bassist Alex James. "We thought, 'We should really do a show while we're there,'" James tells Rolling Stone. "It's been a real scramble, but we've managed to work it out, and we couldn't be more excited. It's a miracle, really. I think we owe the fans something, 'cause it's been a long, long time since we've been there."
The band is planning to play their new LP, The Magic Whip, in its entirety at the show, which will be a free, all-ages event presented by Converse Rubber Tracks. Fans can register for tickets online; admission at the venue will be first-come, first-served.
Since reuniting in 2009, Blur have played extensively in the rest of the world, though have only appeared stateside for a pair of Coachella dates. "We deliberately played in places we'd never been before," says James. "Going to far-flung places like Montevideo in Uruguay and Jakarta in Indonesia – the kids that were coming to see us were really young, and they were crying their eyes out and singing every word. That was part of what made us think that maybe we should do another record."
James says he can't wait to play the songs from The Magic Whip, which the band debuted in late March at a London club. "When we first rehearsed it, I couldn't sleep – it was so completely exhilarating to be playing all this new music," he says. "I always think I'm never going to hear that sound again. I've always treated every Blur show like it might be the last, because it genuinely might be." He laughs. "You never know when something's going to explode or something's going to fall to bits. So it's genuinely wonderful to have so much new music to play, and it just feels incredible."
Brooklyn's own Honduras, who have recorded at the Converse Rubber Tracks studio, will open for Blur. "It's completely surreal and a dream opportunity," Honduras singer Pat Philips tells Rolling Stone. "I still haven't been able to process it."
Blur have yet to announce any further North American tour plans, but for James, the unique, intimate gig will be a memorable one. "We've always had a great time in New York, so I think it's going to be particularly special," James says. "It's the city where all your dreams come true, isn't it?"