Here’s it is: the J review for the Alphabet Tour from James Blake. This would have been posted sooner but I’ve been stuck trying to figure out if there’s any way of rearranging the alphabet. Not for a laboured pick-up line, but BECAUSE THERE’S NO FUCKING BANDS BEGINNING WITH K! Or if there are, they’re refusing to play near me. So if you’re in a band beginning with K, hit me up.
Who: James Blake
When: 25 September, 2013
Where: Shepherd’s Bush Empire, London
Beer: £4.60 for a Foster’s
Average age: 28
Cost of a t-shirt: £20
Best bit: The overly dramatic light show.
Worst bit: I’m never going to get over beer prices at gigs.
It’s a bit of a jump from Issues to James Blake, I’ll give you that, but what’s the point in only listening to angry young men all the time? If I’m hanging out my arse on a Sunday afternoon on the sofa, the last thing I want is someone screaming at me – that’s where Mr Blake and his downtempo electro (downlectro?) come in.
However, tonight, I’m not hungover – I’m drinking. And being sat at the top of Shepherd’s Bush might not seem like the most rock ‘n’ roll of situations to be in, but I’m not here to crowdsurf and punch people in the head – this is a quiet Wednesday night out. But will it hold up?
Leaning more toward recent material, Blake runs through an impressive 17 songs tonight with his three-piece band. The trio are almost lost on the enormity of the stage but luckily there’s a lighting rig once used to communicate with a Mothership and enough bass to knock out Andre The Giant. It’s fully immersive and impossible to look away, everywhere I turn there’s people in awe of the cacophony of sound rolling over them or people Instagramming the dick out of the light show.
From the energy of CMYK to the serene, chilled-out nature of Digital Lion, it’s Limit To Your Love that proves the turning point of tonight. The singing, the half-dancing, the muso head-bobbing and the ‘Oh I know this one’ pint-sipping envelop the sold-out 2,000 capacity venue as the post-dubstep hit swells inside.
For one final trick James has a fiddle with his various contraptions and machines that surround him and creates an epic vocal loop of multiple layers for Measurements. Listening to a virtual choir of yourself on stage isn’t something your average band blast out for an encore but these guys make it work. Solely a capella, it’s almost haunting and could be construed as the works of a madman only wanting to hear his own voice for eternity. And as James leaves the stage in darkness with his voice still ringing out it’s a meander to the finish rather than sprint, but – as his back catalogue shows – why rush anything?
Come back soon for K which could be bloody anything. In the mean time, follow me on Twitter or something.