Gorillaz Went Live With Song Machine

On Dec. 11-13th, Gorillaz presented Song Machine Live: A multimedia live stream event. The virtual concert took place over three different time zones via LIVENow. Fully animated, the band performed Gorillaz’s latest album during these socially distanced times for thousands to watch.

Song Machine: The Album

The live stream included songs from Song Machine, Season One: Strange Timez— A compilation of organic projects started by Damon Albarn. Crafted over the course of quarantine, the 17-track album consists of diverse collaborations with artists like Schoolboy Q, Slaves, and Elton John. The overall flow of the 2020 album was back and forth, but it had its fair share of catchy tunes.

Song Machine Live

With an image that literally doesn’t age, the band has lasted 20 because of their always evolving sound and digital presence. That’s exactly what we see with this energetic performance.

The pandemic has limited many artists from performing with stimulating visuals, but for this group, the virtual world seems to be a more snug fit. Song Machine Live presented a full-scale production of real-time performances from musician Albarn and guest. The hour-long event also included unique augmented animations of the characters from the band by Jamie Hewlitt.

All of the featured artists from the album made appearances, mostly in pre-recorded projections. There were some musicians that did make live appearances at the show like Robert Smith and the Slaves.

The energy and flow of the setlist made it a truly immersive experience that was fun despite its limitations. Surprise acts, like British reggae singer Sweetie Irie, were there in person for a Rasta rendition of Clint Eastwood made the experience worthwhile for longtime fans. All the acts and the technology brought energy to the concert that made it so fun to watch. My favorite performance of the night was Momentary Bliss ft. slowthai and Slaves because of the visuals integrated with the song, and natural on-stage chemistry. 

The overall planning and production that went into this event are incredible. It gave viewers a pretty unique experience close to the feel of a real concert. The Gorillaz used their brand and resources to make an unparalleled environment.

This event could change how some artist should Livestream moving forward with the benefits of things like augmented reality. I would definitely say this live stream event was one of the better virtual acts I’ve seen, the only thing missing was an encore.


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