Words and photos by Matthew Eisman
Last night saw the US debut of London producer phenom James Blake at Music Hall of Williamsburg. The classically trained Blake released his self-titled debut ushering in a wave of hype and praise.James Blake - A Case of You (Joni Mitchell cover)
The big question was how would Blakeâ€™s glitchy, sparse songs translate live? Short answer: unbelievably well. Intricate productions were reproduced with only a couple of keyboards, samplers, vocal loops, drums and guitar. It was deceptively simple, very soulful and much more organic than expected.
The rest of the review and a full photo set after the jump.
The set largely consisted of material off of his full-length debut, including fan-favorites “The Wilhelm Scream,” “I Never Learnt To Share,” and “Limit To Your Love.” Blake came back on alone for a much deserved encore, and performed a delicate piano/ vocal rendition of Joni Mitchell’s “A Case Of You.â€ť It was a personal highlight as Mitchell’s Blue is one of my favorite albums.
What was the crowd like? Well it wasnâ€™t a hedonistic dance party Ă la Girl Talk shows. People were attentive, animated and friendly. It was the kind of reception that youâ€™d expect for a band with a dedicated following, not a debut performance. Itâ€™s noteworthy to add that indie royalty including Icelandic chanteuse BjĂ¶rk, Antony Hegarty (of Antony and the Johnsons) and Dirty Projectors Dave Longstreth and Amber Coffman were there to witness it too. I have the crappy iPhone picture to prove it!
James Blake with Antony, Dirty Projectors, and Bjork
Blakeâ€™s slated to appear at SXSW this week so expect lots more buzz and praise. Blake will make his return New York in May with shows at The Bowery Ballroom and Le Poisson Rouge.