N.E.R.D. leads the way for animated funk-rockers
Cartoon supergroup Gorillaz leapt off the sketchpad in Denver Sunday night, taking the form of band creator Damon Albarn, soul singer Bobby Womack and dozens of other performers just as colorful in real life as they are on screen.
The futuristic alt-funk dance band, now even harder to categorize thanks to the addition of former Clash members Paul Simonon and Mick Jones, left no corner of the Wells Fargo Theatre stage unfilled. A full orchestra, a brass section, a choirful of of backup singers and untold numbers of other musicians rotated on and off during the set, which featured a large chunk of the band's catalog. Singer Albarn, who in previous years has hidden behind elaborate special effects and screens, stepped into a full-fledged frontman role, rocking out and leaping between speakers just above the front row. Snoop Dogg himself even made a prerecorded appearance via video screen.
Openers N.E.R.D., led by the ever-smooth Pharrell Williams, revisited the rock-tinged hip-hop style they helped popularize with tracks like "Rock Star" and "Lapdance." Pharrell's dissertations on social justice and gay rights seemed a little heavy for the party-hearty crowd, but the music kept them grooving right up until the Gorillaz's set.