Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Live Review - James Blake @ Music Hall of Williamsburg

Walking onto the stage just after 10pm, a tall, stick figure like person stepped on the dimly lit stage that resembled a jungle due to the amount of wires, chords and gear. With two musicians accompanying him, the young talent that is James Blake awkwardly sat behind his keyboards and did not look like he was ready for what was in store for him that night. Looking out into the sold out Music Hall of Williamsburg, Blake’s first word’s were “oh, hi! Thanks for coming,” before breaking into his set. Blake’s style of music is a hybrid of experimental dub step, lo-fi, and electronica and his lyrics show his vulnerability, passion and sensitivity. Only releasing his self titled debut last month, he has become a critical favorite and now on his first trip to America and at his debut US show, Blake is now a fan favorite. Playing such an intricate and involved style of music sometimes does not translate well live, for Blake it was spot on. The songs from his debut were much more tangible and showed much more complexity and dimension than on disc. In fact, it was quite the epic experience with the heavy bass kicking in, the entire venue would shake and vibrate and it was so powerful and strong, that you could feel the bass right in the center of your chest and through your whole body – it was joyously uncomfortable, but made the show.

“Thank you. This is, well, crazy. This is my first time in America…ever, I can’t believe this, thank you,” Blake said halfway through the set. With his humble attitude and awe, the fans could only reciprocate the feeling. While the crowd would warm up to Blake, Blake would warm up to the crowd, he would bop his mop-top and shake his upper body to the music and get into it. He would shake out his nerves and realize, he has made it, and he is accepted and is now on his way to be a major international artist. Yet, Blake still had tricks up his sleeve as he would show off what he can do with his piano skills, tape loops and technological trickery, the audience would just scream louder and louder. Yet, the biggest applause would come during his songs “The Wilhelm Scream,” “I Never Learnt to Share” and the set closer, his cover of Feists “Limit to Your Love.” Once the final note was played, Blake and his band were off the stage. While the crowd demanded more, he came out by himself, sat down behind his keyboard and began playing another cover, this time Joni Mitchell’s “A Case of You.”

This may have been Blake’s first time to America, his first US gig, but it is far from the last. The young artist has a very long career ahead of him and we just cannot wait to see what he does next.