Tuesday, 6 December 2011

Live Show - James Blake



Where: London
Venue: (HMV) Kentish Town Forum

Just to make everyone jealous, I received free entry and free beer due to being friends with a member of the bar staff, along with free accommodation and dinner for the same reason. Not only this, I attended the after show which I will touch upon later. As I live in the Midlands, I travelled down to London by bus at a very cheap fare, which lasted over three hours, but the end result was worth the treacherous journey through North London. 

The support act go by the name Vondelpark, who combine light Dream Pop structures with atmospheric beats and twinge vocals which are surprisingly delicate on the ear. Filled with samples and synth loops, they played a great opening set to  bewildered audience who may have picked up one or two lyrics as the vocals were very quiet and needed to be turned up. I downloaded Vondelparks EP 'NYC Stuff and NYC Bags', prior to them being announced as the support act, so I was aware of the material they would be performing. They managed to sound as good live as they do in the studio, with a bigger emphasis on guitar work live. After the concert I spoke to the lead singer and complimented him on his performance, mentioning the fact that I own his EP, he showed great gratitude and compassion towards my words.

James Blake came on stage about 9.45pm, accompanied by his drummer and guitarist. The first 10 seconds of 'Unluck' were met with silence and appreciation by the audience. His sound was well refined and the sound system was far beyond my expectations, bass hitting my entire body as I sipped on my free pint of Red Stripe. 'Tep and The Logic' followed with a heavier sound and a bigger reaction from the young audience. It wasn't a huge track, but it paved the way for 'Love What Happened Here', which featured great instrumentation and perfect drumming, something which interests me in James Blake's music.

It all goes quiet, with a few claps, before we here those exciting lyrics "My brother and my sister don't speak to me, but I don't blame them". Teenage screams are heard whilst 'I Never Learnt To Share' picks up and progresses towards the kick, which is met with female iPhone's and a small head bang by the male counterparts. The bass sounded great and took control of my entire body, leading straight into the vocal harmonies of 'Lindisfarne I'. This was very melancholy and his voice echoed around the venue with very little audience noise. 'Lindisfarne II' took control and took things forward in terms of artist/audience relationship, with James talking to the audience thanking them and mentioning this show as the last on his United Kingdom venue tour.

'CMYK' made an appearance, showcasing his earlier, stronger material. With the memorable intro and flowing vocals, the kick just sounds astonishing. The drumming is again perfect, with a minimal look on Dubstep. It was a much needed break from the more atmopsheric tracks from the James Blake LP, after 'I Care' was met with little care (no pun intended). It began the lengthy end to his set, with 'Limit To Your Love' entering like a ballerina. His piano sounded great along with the eerie vocals and watching eyes by his band. The bass was amazing as expected, but the real focus was on the drumming, which sounded much better than the studio recording. It was raw and far more noticeable than anything on the studio album. The fans loved it, with photography blocking my sight, I didn't mind because the sound was so over powering that I didn't care what was happening on stage. 

'Klavierwerke' and 'Wilhelms Scream' ended the set, both met with great applause and concentration. I had drank about four Red Stripes by this point, so I was tipsy and loving the bass, with the audience acting out 'Wilhelms Scream's' lyrics, by falling to the floor. Something which the drugged up kids at Latitude did in annoyance as I was standing up for hours watching Suede. They exited the stage and two minutes later came back on to play the final two tracks of 'A Case of You', a Joni Mitchell cover.. And 'Anti War Dub', a Digital Mytikz cover. Both of which sounding deliriously good on the ear, 'Anti War Dub' lasting for about 12 minutes which felt like two, then 'A Case of You' which was extremely eerie and fast, which is unusual for a James Blake vocal, it wasn't great, sounding rushed and uncharacteristic much like the version on his new EP, Blue Thunder.

The lighting was an important backdrop to Blake's music, giving the audience something to focus on other than Blake's nodding head. The venue was surprisingly big, with many bars and recently developed toilets. The staff were very friendly and the doormen were polite, meeting various staff members gave me an in depth view on how the venue is run and by who.

My friend and I made our way to the upstairs bar, where we had even more free drinks and chilled in the lounge, awaiting the arrival of James Blake. When he showed up, I was surprised at his height, towering above everyone else in the room. His band members were also present and so was the support act, who I spoke to as mentioned above. James wandered around the room talking to friends and obvious newspaper journalists, before making his way to the decks. After about two hours my friends boyfriend began to speak to Blake, because we're too socially awkward to strike up a conversation. The topic was about 'Post-Dubstep', which ended in James telling us how he doesn't class his music as Post-Dubstep, meanwhile a friend walked behind the decks and asked Blake what to do, Blake then began to show my friend how to DJ. Watching this from two feet away didn't settle, people were leaving and drinks were being spilt. It was around 2.30am when I complimented Blake on his Digital Mystikz Anti War Dub cover, before having our picture taken by the doorman.

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