From the moment I walked into the Commodore on Thursday night, I began to vibrate. And not just from my child-on-Christmas-morning excitement for seeing James Blake perform, but because the whole place was literally vibrating. This is what I’d come for. I pushed forth through the throng of the sold out crowd and their white plumes of what I can only assume to be pot smoke, and nestled right in. I wanted to be close. I wanted to be permeated with every deep, bass-y note that I knew Blake’s music would elicit, and I wasn’t disappointed.
Born in London, singer/songwriter and producer James Blake spent the evening with us in support of his latest release Overgrown. Admittedly, I haven’t heard much of it, but the first single “Retrograde” has been on constant rotation for me. It’s been documented that this new album is more mature and complex than his self-titled album – almost dreamlike. In fact, most of Blake’s music has a dreamy, ethereal quality to it. His sweet, soft vocals and smooth electronic-style instrumentals with their bass-heavy …uh… bass makes every song feel a bit like a drugged-out Portishead song.
On stage with Blake were two other players – a percussionist and a guitarist – and as expected, they played great together. Like really, really great. And although the three of them spent the entire show seated, it wasn’t their actual interaction with themselves or with us (no on-stage banter; no dancing around to pump up the crowd) that made the show wonderful. It was the music itself – obvs – coupled with the incredible synchronization of the lights. I’m no lighting or sound technician but whoever put this show together, did an amazing job. It made the entire experience feel like one massive, outdoor show.
If I had to pick on any one thing for this show, it’d be that I may have been the only sober person there. Thankfully, the buzz and excitement of the crowd was intoxicating enough but Blake’s music also lends itself to a dreamlike, euphoric state that you really only get from being in the company of very good friends with a few drinks at hand. It’s chill. It’s relaxing. And it’s worth experiencing the entire thing with a group of people. As a solo concert-goer, that would be the only part of it that felt like it was lacking for me. But that wasn’t James’s fault. I have only myself to blame. Otherwise, James played amazingly. He played my favourites – a remixy-sounding version of “CMYK” and “Limit to Your Love” and he then ended the set with an encore – why pretend, artists? Why leave the stage and pretend like you’re not coming back out for an encore? – and his rendition of Joni Mitchell’s “A Case of You”.
Photos of James Blake & FaltyDL © Jamie Taylor