Gorillaz return to the stage to play free gig for NHS workers at O2 Arena

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Gorillaz returned to the stage with a free concert in London for NHS workers and their families to thank them for their sacrifices during the pandemic.

The virtual band, created by Blur's Damon Albarn and artist Jamie Hewlett, performed at the O2 Arena on Tuesday – their first gig in front of a live audience since October 2018.

Concert-goers were required to show a negative COVID-19 test to attend the gig – which was the O2's first full capacity live event since March 2020.

The band performed a free concert for NHS workers and their families. Pic: Luke Dyson

Image:
It was a free concert for NHS workers and their families. Pic: Luke Dyson

Gorillaz celebrated their more than 20-year career with a setlist spanning their seven albums.

They also invited a star-studded cast of collaborators to the stage including The Cure's Robert Smith, former Joy Division and New Order star Peter Hook, rapper Slowthai and Shaun Ryder of the Happy Mondays.

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It was the band's first gig in front of a live audience since October 2018. Pic Luke Dyson

Image:
It was the band's first gig in front of a live audience since October 2018. Pic Luke Dyson

It comes after most COVID restrictions on large gatherings in England were lifted last month, paving the way for a return to live music.

The coronavirus pandemic had a profound impact on the band's latest album, Song Machine Season One: Strange Timez, both logistically and artistically.

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Albarn, who worked on the band's seventh collection throughout lockdown from his second home in Devon, told Sky News in October: "That anxiety is inevitably in it, that we all share.

Damon Albarn and Jamie Hewlett, along with their cartoon creations Noodle, 2D, Murdoc and Russel. Pic: Gorillaz/Michael Leckie

Image:
Damon Albarn and Jamie Hewlett, along with their cartoon creations Noodle, 2D, Murdoc and Russel. Pic: Gorillaz/Michael Leckie

"You've got to allow music to continue… We are trying to preserve everyone's health at the moment so passionately, we mustn't ignore live music in that prescription.

"If people are willing to perform, they should be allowed to, no one should be forced to do anything but if people are willing then somehow we can make it work so everyone can feel comfortable and participate."

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Gorillaz will return to the O2 on Wednesday for a sold-out show.

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