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James Blake – Debuts New Song ‘Forever’ in Toronto

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James Blake – Debuts New Song ‘Forever’ in Toronto

TOTAL SCORE: 9

Who: James Blake w/Airhead
When: Sunday Nov 30, 2014
Where: Virgin Mobile Mod Club – Toronto ON

James Blake - Dagmar Yu-5

Photos: Dagmar Yu

The Toronto crowd anxiously awaited for James Blake Sunday night at Virgin Mobile Mod Club in Toronto as guitarist Rob McAndrews (aka Airhead) warmed up the room.  By 9:30pm the floor was packed so dense that one would have needed to jaws of life to pry their way through.   When Blake and his band took to the stage shortly after 10pm it was safe to say that the venue had reached capacity.  The majority of the audience were die hard fans with a few drunk onlookers being shushed by everyone immediately once the show began.

Last night was Blake’s first stop and only Canadian stop on a mini tour that will take him to Brooklyn tonight. The majority of the set was filled with known favorites which were played on past tours (see set list below).    However a few new gems leaked including “Forever” which is expected to be released on Blake’s third album.    While the new material has been leaning towards a heavier electronic sound with ‘200 Press’, ‘Forever’ is the first new ballad we’ve heard.

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A cover of ‘Hope She’ll be Happier’  by R&B soul singer Bill Withers opened the night followed by another new song ‘Radio Silence’, which is also deeply rooted in electronica and dubstep.

Blake’s take on the Joni Mitchell cover ‘A Case Of You’ was a notable highlight of the evening.

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James Blake defies categorical stylings in the traditional sense.  He is one of the few artists out there who can meld Dubstep with R&B and then proceed to play a full on ballad. To see him live is to experience nothing but the original style that is James Blake.  What lacked in stage presence, was made up for with musical prowess, intelligent songwriting and light crowd interaction.

“We’ll do a couple more” said Blake after an hour. “So then you can’t boo when I say this is the last song because I’ve warned you”.  This was met by a humorous ‘boo’ from the crowd, “not this one, it’s coming” before breaking into his Ivor Novello ‘best contemporary song’ winning single ‘Retrograde’ from 2013 mercury prize winning album ‘Overgrown’.

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“Do it again” yelled someone from the crowd when the song ended to raucous applause.   “It’s like a Psy concert.  We’ll just play Gangnam style at the beginning and Gangnam style at the end.  When you’ve got the hits I guess that’s what you can do.”

“I understand that it’s unspoken, the whole encore thing, it’s just an unspoken agreement” said Blake before finishing off the set with ‘The Wilhelm Scream’ a cover of ‘Where To Turn’ that was written by his father.

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After waving to the crowd, the band exited stage right to applause which continued for several minutes.  For a moment it didn’t seem as though Blake would return.  When he did he sat solo and said: ‘I don’t take it for granted that you would want me to come out again, so thank you so much’

“James you’re so hot!” yelled someone from the audience, to which he replied “I’ll disappear for ten years then…”

“What’s on your shirt” said someone else. “There’s a flower on there as he proceeded to debut his new three min love ballad “Forever” and close out the night.

Musicians:
Ben Assiter (drums)
Rob McAndrews (guitar)
James Blake (vocals, keys, humor etc)

2014 tour dates
10.30 Paris, France – Pitchfork Music Festival Paris
11.30 Toronto, Ontario – Mod Club
12.01 Brooklyn, NY – Music Hall of Williamsburg
12.05 Miami, FL – Young Arts
12.07 San Francisco, CA – The Chapel
12.09 Los Angeles, CA – The Roxy

James Blake set list Nov 30 2014

By: Darrell Shelley

THE SCENE


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