Live: Plastic Trees, Superfast Jellyfish & Everything In Between. Gorillaz, Wedgewood Rooms.

Strolling through the nippy streets of Portsmouth on a Sunday evening, gliding past chip shop windows as vaporised fat potent enough to permeate the most vacuous of double glazing wafts unpleasantly through the sea breeze on the south coast of Blighty, a national treasure endowed with a glinting gold tooth chomps into the raw fish maki of a local Japanese. It’s been over four agonising years since Albarn’s Gorillaz impeccably recited their superlative Danger Mouse-produced Demon Days up in the miserable drizzle of Manchester. Before taking to the stage amidst zithers, string sections and 3D projections of 2D and Murdoc Niccals (twisted caricatures of Albarn and grubby cartoonist comrade Jamie Hewlett respectively) who proceeded to litter the seated adorers below with tangible popcorn, any form of expectation was entirely unfathomable. This week the “band” (for want of a better word) have slinked out of the shadows of their fantasy contemporaries to “rehearse” and iron out the cracks before their headlining Coachella slot in a mere matter of weeks. Such a distinct lack of Hewlett visuals drags Albarn unerringly into the sweat-soaked spotlights of the Wedgewood Rooms, accentuating the widespread impression that Plastic Beach is in fact the chameleonic genius’ opus he’s threatened to forge for the past decade. Slightly ramshackle to say the least, especially when set against fellow line up summiteers Muse and Jay-Z, Albarn’s visibly quaking tonight in Portsmouth as he stares out over a sea of Blackberries. And of course, once more we’re completely incapable of anticipating that which we’re about to witness.

Strolling on calmly to Plastic Beach’s Orchestral Intro, gone is the swagger with which he strutted onto the Pyramid Stage last June, in place stumbling on with a chipper rather than cocky demeanour. Alongside the Blur songster and ultimate modern-day renaissance man, miraculously something of a semi-Clash reunion has been established, uniting the interpretive oriental jibing of Mick Jones, a worthy addition to any line up on comedic gibberish alone (despite approximately eighteen precise notes sounding from his battered Fenders all evening) and the stern squints of bassist Paul Simonon, all adorned in shards of pirate regalia, washed up on the shores of Portsmouth having waded over from the Plastic Beach. As far as stellar collaboration spots, that’s it for this evening, as Snoop Dogg booms out over squeaky speakers from a backing track on live opener Welcome To The World Of The Plastic Beach. A fair amount of imagination is desired when dreaming up how Lou Reed’s croaks on Some Kind Of Nature may sound down in the deepest, darkest heart of the residential decadence of Portsmouth’s deserted promenades, yet with two drummers in place to bash out the off-centre hip-hop hi-hats of the quirky orientation and arrangement of the likes of Superfast Jellyfish and later, quite astonishingly, Clint Eastwood, gaps aren’t so much ironed as breathtakingly sailed over like Bruce Willis accelerating over the Grand Canyon in a battered Cadillac. Simonon’s dub-edged basslines permeate the kooky disjointed urbanity of Stylo and White Flag, lauded unanimously by all those within earshot of the flares ignited off of the sands of the Plastic Beach, whilst a subdued, star struck crowd of 400-odd fling forearms about to the minimalist 80s synth highlights of Demon Days (O Green World and El MaƱana stand resolute) in the hope of attracting a globule of Damon’s saliva like shrubbery blindly scouring for daylight. The electro-aggressive romp that is Glitter Freeze could deafen half of neighbouring Southampton, whilst DARE is still as abrasively devastating as Sean Ryder on a Meow Meow afternoon binge in a Wetherspoons. As Albarn triumphantly thumps the oxygen, carbon dioxide and carbon monoxide particles that hover before him throughout the sorrowful opening to Plastic Beach piece de resistance On Melancholy Hill, a brighter beam than Southsea will have seen over the past ten years dawns across his face, in utter belief of the quite immaculate songsmithery he’s now effortlessly accomplished. Where Plastic Beach can be interpreted as a collaborative record so much to the extent that it at times almost loses its footing and thus the rooting of its creators, despite being backed up by half of The Clash tonight Albarn governs every technical glitch and guitar pitch like the demented genius of escapist glory he’s categorically morphed into. California’s in for the ride of its life.