James Blake, Nice'nSleazy, Sun 27 Mar 2011
Electro wunderkind James Blake shows his talents stretch beyond the dubstep tag
LIVE MUSIC REVIEW
Let’s get it out the way. Yes, James Blake is ‘that guy who did that Feist cover’ ('Limit to Your Love' - see below). And to others he is ‘that guy who came second in that BBC talent poll thing’ (BBC Sound of 2011, to be exact, in which he came second to Jessie J).
But the 22-year-old Londoner is much more than that. Everyone’s favourite electro wunderkind has been touring his self-titled debut, released in February, and garnering handfuls of praise for the live interpretation of his glitchy, introspective, dynamic and poetic beats.
Expanded into a three-piece in a live setting, Blake’s rich, soulful croon is often augmented by effects, building on his voice as an instrument rather than enhancing a shoddy set of pipes (cough – Katy Perry – cough). Deep, heavy bass abounds, along with vocal loops, layered synths and videogame keys.
Whilst some material from his earlier EPs is given a head nod, the album is tonight’s main focus. Album opener 'Unluck' comes early in the set. The continual vocal chant of 'I Never Learned To Share' showcases Blake’s penchant for some gospel voice work and a plethora of crescendos. 'Limit To Your Love' does, of course, make an appearance but latest single 'The Wilhelm Scream' and the gentle swell and slow build of 'Lindesfarne(s) I' and 'II' stand out. Every silence, chord and click is painstakingly placed, finally producing thoughtful, creative music which could convert any cretin terrified by the ‘dance’ or ‘dubstep’ label.
Somehow, it’s hard to believe that Blake is crying himself to sleep at night about that BBC thing. He’s doing it like a (properly talented) dude.