Sometimes, you go to a gig and leave wondering why the sound was average, or thinking about how the artist didn’t play your favourite song, or that they didn’t engage the audience very much. Other times, you leave feeling completely and utterly blown away at the mastery you’ve just witnessed on stage. That’s how I feel about the performance James Blake gave at Margaret Court Arena .
Support Mark Pritchard opened the night with a DJ set that started with cinematic, ethereal soundscapes before bursting into jungle, deep house and grime later on. The set wasn’t very cohesive or engaging, and I was a little confused as to why he was chosen as the only support: he didn’t really seem like the right fit to me. To his credit though, when he started to play more deep house and jungle, the crowd started to get hyped and ready for the main act.
Through the mix of programmed sounds, live playing and enthralling visuals, James Blake and his band created an immersive experience that had me on the edge of my seat for the entirety of the gig: I could not take my eyes off of the stage. The band – consisting of Blake on keys, a drummer and a guitarist/second keys player – was so tight. The outfit jammed, extended songs and smoothly transitioned between tracks without missing a beat.
Blake’s incredible, angelic voice shone through on old favourites like ‘Limit To Your Love‘ and new favourites like ‘Radio Silence‘, and I was blown away at how powerful his voice actually is. The beautifully descriptive and poetic lyrics of ‘Love Me In Whatever Way’ sent shivers down my spine, and four-to-the-floor banger ‘Voyeur’ had everyone in the crowd losing their collective shit. The set would drift back and forth between jagged electro-soul and dark, intricate house, but what really hit me was the solo piano ballad and title track from the new record, ‘The Colour In Anything‘. I was absolutely blown away by the beautiful vocal harmonies, lush piano chords and heartbreaking lyrics.
Not many artists can craft a set like James Blake, and I think that’s because he’s an incredibly gifted songwriter, able to move freely between the genre boundaries that would usually restrict other musicians. The gig really was amazing, probably one of the best I’ve ever seen, but I’ve run out of ways to describe how blown away I was by it, so I’m gonna quote an audience member who responded to the singer while he checked in on the audience after a long bracket of songs with no break – “It was f***in’ grouse!”, and I agree with that statement wholeheartedly.
Check out photos from the night right HERE