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Gorillaz in the hits
Gorillaz in the hits

The masterminds behind Grammy award-winning virtual band Gorillaz were monkeying around backstage yesterday before they kicked off the final leg of their world tour at Burswood Dome on Monday night.

Damon Albarn, former Blur singer turned ringleader of this sonic circus, pretended to cry, squeezing an orange on his face to create tears, while Tank Girl animator Jamie Hewlett moaned beside him.

The cause of their anguish? The Dome's airlocks were making a noise akin to a dentist's drill, a fact Albarn emphasised by tilting his head back and screaming...

"It's like a dentist," Albarn, 42, told Access All Areas with a flash of his gold tooth.

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"It's the end of the world AND a dentist," Hewlett, also 42, added with a weary chuckle.

Despite being totally bemused by the Perth venue, the two British creators of Gorillaz couldn't wait to show off their incredible live show - one that featured soul legend Bobby Womack, half of the Clash, hip-hop trio De La Soul, Chicago's Hypnotic Brass Ensemble and the Syrian National Orchestra for Arabic Music. All of this musical talent was topped by Hewlett's eye-popping visuals.

Hewlett described the travelling ensemble, which sometimes saw more than 20 musos on stage together, as a "very big family" and a rock'n'roll United Nations. "A band of this size and this overall charisma, well, you're never going to see it again," Albarn said.

Gorillaz started 12 years ago simply as a way for the two friends to collaborate without the pressure of being in the spotlight. The geezers hoped to hide behind a cartoon band, which they soon realised was both ridiculous and impossible. Their first two albums, 2001's self-titled debut and 2005's Demon Days, won awards and have sold a total of more than 20 million records worldwide.

This year's Plastic Beach topped the Australian charts and further cemented Gorillaz' status as one of the most successful bands of the past decade.

The demand for live shows prompted the current world tour, which ends in New Zealand on December 21.

Albarn revealed he finished a new album on the road, which will be given away free to fans via the Gorillaz website on Christmas Day. "It's a way of thanking everyone who supported us and it's a chance to get the music out without all that paraphernalia and process."