It all seems so oddly innocent, like a ’90s Britpop update of Cliff’s Summer Holiday capers. Essentially a glorified tour film, shot between 1991 and 1993, Star Shaped captures Blur at a major crossroads in their career, as they seek to shed the baggy influences of their debut album Leisure and reinvent themselves in response to the rise of grunge and their own ailing popularity in the UK.
“The whole thing about pop music is you’re ripping off as many people as you possibly can,”an improbably baby-faced Damon Albarn philosophises early on. What matters, he explains, is making sure you steal from the right places?and by this point that meant the Ray Davies/David Bowie/SYD Barrett school of English songwriting.
Many will hold that this was Blur’s high tide as they storm their way through material from Leisure’s follow-up, Modern Life Is Rubbish, such as “Colin Zeal”, “Chemical World”and “Sunday, Sunday” with a righteous, booze-fuelled energy, stumbling drunkenly from one indie festival to another, from Reading to Roskilde. And they really are incredibly pissed-up here, pouring more and more booze down their necks to obliterate the hangovers; we’re even treated to the charming sight of a tired and emotional Graham Coxon throwing up at one point.
What adds extra curiosity value to the film is how strangely distant 1994 seems now, those foppish haircuts and cumbersome early mobile phones having turned Star Shaped into something of a fascinating period piece.