I’ve been a fan of James Blake for a while – ever since Overgrown came out. I don’t remember how I discovered him, maybe through the song ‘Retrograde‘? I remember going out to buy the album from HMV. After that, I went back through his discography and enjoyed it very much! Since then, I’d always wanted to see him live. I managed to tune into a few of the live streams of his concerts. I was very excited when he announced a show at Manchester Academy and immediately booked my ticket. It was a very nice surprise when one of my friends contacted me saying they were also going alone so we decided to meet up.
I met Sam in the queue, just before doors opened, the queue was quite small. One thing I did notice when we got into the venue, was the lack of merchandise. No t-shirts. The only thing on sale was a limited edition poster designed by the illustrator Quentin Blake. We managed to get two rows from the front. The support act was Mark Pritchard. He was a DJ, he was ok, but not really my thing. There were nice visuals to go with his set though!
I really liked the set up of the stage. There were three podiums, one for Rob, one for Ben and one for James. I loved how for some songs, Rob and Ben turned round to face the audience directly (Ben the drummer was always facing forward) – it was very slick! James Blake’s voice! I think it is quite stunning, it has so much emotion. The best thing about live music is of course – the music! I love the sound of live drums. You can feel it. The bass was also very pleasing. You can kind of feel it under your feet.
The lights in this show were one of the best I’ve seen. I loved how they were coordinated with the beats of the song. James, Ben and Rob are such brilliant musicians – so in sync with each other. I was on the side closest to Rob and his guitar skills were just amazing. The pace he was playing at during ‘Choose Me‘! ‘Timeless‘ was one of my favourites from the album – the starting beats are so cool and then when it drops towards the end, just brilliant!
I think ‘Limit to Your Love (Feist cover)‘ is one of James’s most well known songs, it’s very chilled out. Before the song, ‘Confidence Boost‘, James, Rob and Ben were just smiling at each other and nodding – I was wondering what was going on. And then the rapper, Trim, just appeared on stage and started rapping! I’d never heard the song ‘Stop What You’re Doing‘ before – but I really loved this one. The light display for this song was so well coordinated with the music – quite stunning! I have to praise the drums on the song ‘Modern Soul‘, really catchy on the cymbals, and the driving beat in the background.
‘Retrograde‘ was amazing live. The visuals in the background were beautiful and very bright, it featured a big sun and a flurrying butterflies. James’s voice in this song! I really enjoy the humming he does. One of my all time favourite songs by James is definitely ‘The Wilhelm Scream‘, he sounds so vulnerable in it. Love the way he sings it, perfectly complemented by the drum beats and also Rob was back with the rapid guitar playing!
For the encore, James came back alone and played ‘A Case of You (Joni Mitchell cover)‘ and also ‘Measurements‘. James commented on how the audience managed to sing along with him during ‘A Case of You‘ when he just goes with the flow on it. For ‘Measurements‘, James warned the audience to be quiet because he was making a loop and if anybody shouted/wooped, it would be recorded onto the loop and make the song sound weird. The audience were surprisingly well behaved haha, only one woop in the middle of the song. James set up the loop and then just exited the stage. A very unique exit. 🙂