Fresh from what I can only assume was a rapturous Splendour performance (I was too busy in the Fat Yak tent playing hoopla with a dead bison head), James Blake headed to Melbourne to play his first Aussie arena show in front of a crowd of eager Blake disciples.
I was curious as to how the James Blake sound would come across in a setting more suited to his tennis namesake– me personally I like to listen to James Blake in the bath, or under a blankie after a bad breakup. But here he was,in Margaret Court Arena.
Supported by two musos, Blake strolled on stage and took his place behind an array of synths, pedals and microphones.
Blake introduced the set in a typically polite, awkward British manner, informing the crowd that he’d be ‘playing a lot of new stuff’. On a Wednesday evening, the crowd seemed a little apprehensive-perhaps they too were a bit out of their depth listening to their favourite mopester playing on a Tennis court.
But Blake quickly reassured us all would fine, launching into new tracks Choose Me and Timeless to great effect. James’ voice is nothing short of heavenly, and as thick slabs of bass wobbled through the crowd it set the tone for the rest of the evening.
The gig bounced between moments of tranquility, with Blake rolling solo for down tempo tracks like the gorgeous Colour in Anything, before switching to almost grime-y versions of tracks like 200 Press, which were extended to 10 minute electro noise jams. You’d be nodding off to a beautiful sleep one second, and pulling out your glowsticks the next.
One thing about a James Blake gig, is that they are BLOODY LOUD. Pack your earplugs .
Blake finished the set with classics Retrograde and Joni Mitchell cover A case of you, before a deafening crowd call for encore brought him back on stage for the song that escalated Blake to worldwide exposure A Wilhelm Scream, which is apparently a cover of his Dad’s own song-the more you know.
Blake’s talent is undeniable and whilst his live shows may leave you a little confused as to how to move your body, it is still an shining example of the deserved star power James Blake has managed to rack up over his relatively short career.
WHAT THEY SAID
“I got distracted during that song, I saw a lot of phones up, and I didn’t know if they were recording me or catching Pokemon”
-James Blake, after Retrograde
-Random crowd member
WHAT IT LOOKED LIKE