Sometimes circumstances conspire to create the perfect show. Though we’ve always been less than enthusiastic about the art of James Blake, the British singer who configures conventional R&B tropes into electronica expressions, we admire him for his earnestness and his ability to convey that earnestness into heartfelt emotion.
Circumstances did conspire on Friday night. The weather was partly overcast, but the setting sun made itself known. Moreover, Blake made it clear that regardless of the specific situations of which he sang, he was talking about things everyone could relate to. He thanked the audience in Japanese for showing up and said what an honor it was to play in Japan, as if he’s been asked to perform by the Emperor. But he was sincere, and that sincerity came through in interesting ways. On record you tend to notice the electronic processing, but live everything felt immediate and unfiltered. The lighting was clear and unfussy, and the sentiments were just as comprehensible. We stood on the top of the hill to the left of the stage, listening to those pure feelings for more than an hour and didn’t really want to leave. (text: Philip Brasor; photos: Mark Thompson)