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James Blake @ Manchester Academy (03/11/16)

In electronic music, Mark Pritchard is well known for his flexibility in musical works and his inclusion of a range of genres in one set such as jungle and ambient. The variation in musical styles throughout his DJ set was impressive, with work from his latest ambient-sounding album ‘Under The Sun’ setting a perfect platform for the main performance of the night.

James Blake’s unique element of timelessness is one that has rightfully earned him a reputable reputation among music fans. His progression musically from his first EP to his latest album ‘The Colour In Anything’ is nothing short of astounding, which truly reflected during his live performance.  

Backdrops can play a key part during a performance, and with minimalistic visuals and art behind James Blake and his close friends/live band members Ben Assister and Rob McAndrews, they complimented the performances perfectly. Throughout the night, it was clear that they enjoyed performing with each other, choosing to continue songs longer than they usually are, which certainly pleased the crowd.

The North London-based artist delved deeper into his emotions for his latest release and combined with his signature gloomy and mellow sound, it was expected that the live show would be memorable, which it certainly was. The set was opened through the performance of his popular single ‘Life Round Here’, which smoothly led to other classics such as ‘The Wilhelm Scream’, delighting those within the full venue.

The combination of electronic sounds and fantastically precise vocals has always differentiated James Blake from other modern musicians. His artistry particularly shone through during his performances for ‘My Willing Heart’ and ‘Love Me In Whatever Way’ , singing high notes with ease.  Another particularly enjoyable time during the performance was the surprise entrance of artist  Trim, who came on during the set to perform their collaborative song ‘Confidence Boost’. The night was closed with James Blake performing a harmonious and unique version of his classic 2011 release of  ‘Measurements’ by looping and layering his own vocals over one another, showing his experimental brilliance.

The performance from James Blake was not only flawless but also cemented his place as one of the best live performances I have seen in a very long time. The ability to express emotions with nothing other than sound is difficult and many artists fail to do so, but with James Blake’s creative prowess and confidence in his own musical abilities, it was completely natural for him.

Photo Credit: Kuda Mushangi

Kuda Mushangi


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