An Evening With A Shadow: James Blake @ The Neptune Theater 4/23/2013 (Concert Review)

Almost no young musician today has been more aggrandized and admired than the prodigious James Blake. Since his eponymous debut in 2011, Blake has developed a reputation as one of music’s most innovative and visionary artists willing to cultivate a sound that bridges imaginative electric atmospheres with somber neo-soul sentiments. With his newest album Overgrown, Blake demonstrated his capabilities for not just electric innovations but musical continuity and emotional magnitude. All of this effusive praise for James Blake coalesced to make Mondays concert and event that I greedily anticipated.

 James-Blake-Overgrown

The show began around 8:15 with an opening set from New York DJ FaltyDL. FaltyDL did an admirable job setting the tone for James Blake to follow with a set characterized by a combination of reverberating dub step and hazy ambient sounds. Ultimately though his set was short and functioned as a tiny prelude for the electric showcase to come. Around 9:15, James Blake took the stage.

His opening song was one of his earlier more post-dub step like pieces that categorized his initial rise to fame. The piece set a solid pace for the show but the crowd truly erupted once Blake played the wildly popular “I Never Learnt to Share.” “I Never Learnt to Share” set the precedent for the entirety of the resulting concert as it showcased both Blake’s natural vocal talent as well as his experimental musical capabilities. From there it was just an unwinding list of some of Blake’s most beloved songs. Some of the highlights were an incredibly euphoric rendition of “Limit to Your Love” and an equally powerful performance of his Brian Eno collaboration “Digital Lion.” However as the night raged on it seemed like time just disappeared resulting in an audience wide shock when Blake revealed at 10:15 that his performance of “Retrograde” would be the night’s last song.

But after a period of voracious applause Blake return to the stage prepared to play the one song everyone both expected and desired, “The Wilhelm Scream”. Blake’s rendition of arguably his most recognizable piece electrified the audience with its soaring vocal loops, atmospheric intensity, and its hypnotic accompanying beat. With this final performance the crowd was satiated and I was able to leave the theater in all encompassing feeling of awe and satisfaction.

 

 -Jeffrey Sablosky

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