Review: James Blake at Eventim Apollo, London


James Blake's performance was a memorable one for its eclectic sound, effective lighting and excitable crowd.

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James Blake never fails to impress; and an evening with him at the Eventim Apollo on the 18th March was certainly memorable.

After selling out the show, it was clear that many were excited to see his performance and experience the show as a whole. Supporting was singer-songwriter Khushi, a very suitable support act due to his similar sound to James Blake himself. He performed singles ranging from over the past few years, but one particular memorable performance was his new single ‘Freedom Falls’, which was released earlier this year. If you are a fan of James Blake, Khushi is definitely someone to listen out for. Whether it be for the quieter singles featuring soft piano melodies, or if you are looking for something more upbeat, you will not be disappointed. He left the crowd feeling excited for Blake’s appearance.

Blake appeared a short thirty minutes after, and the crowd were ecstatic. This sold-out show highlights how dedicated many fans were, as there wasn’t a single place in the venue left bare. All the way up the sides of the balcony, at the back of the balcony and the entirety of the ground floor was full. James’ eclectic sound brings many individuals together to experience a show of soft piano songs but also strong, loud R&B hits – it was a show for everyone.

Blake covered base on almost all albums over the years. Although the majority of the setlist was from Assume Form (released earlier this year), he performed some older fan favourites such as ‘Limit to Your Love’, whilst also performing an incredible 10-minute version of ‘Voyeur’. This was a definite hit amongst the crowd, as we were all absolutely absorbed in his immense talent.

Arguably one of Blake’s most famous singles, ‘Retrograde’, created such a powerful response from the audience. The entire crowd was visibly moving, radiating excitement and this was an amazing response to witness.

Blake’s interaction with the audience was short but sweet – after welcoming his parents whom were somewhere within the crowd, he introduced his guitarist and his drummer, who he has known since secondary school. I’ve always considered Blake to be a somewhat mysterious figure due to the privacy he tends to keep over his personal life, and this was accentuated more in his full black outfit and minimal talking.

The incredible, encapsulating musical performances were not the only thing to impress; the light show was unique in its simplicity but was very effective. The three musicians, Blake included, were sat on raised platforms with lights underneath whilst a long strip of lights was placed at the back of the stage behind them. Progressing from blue, to red, to an effective canonical sequence of white lights, these lighting techniques suited the music perfectly, and in turn created an exciting atmosphere throughout the Apollo.

The sound quality in Eventim Apollo is impeccable. Despite being seated in the balcony, I wasn’t able to hear any background noise or distraction, which allowed everyone to be perfectly encompassed in the music. This sound quality was embraced completely at James’ insistence on the silence of the audience during the final song, ‘Lullaby to My Insomniac’. The silence from the audience created an extremely emotive close of the show, and as it finished James placed his microphone down, did a quick wave and walked off very nonchalantly.

He described how he wrote this particular song, ‘Lullaby’, for someone who suffered to sleep, keeping it anonymous and rather mysterious. However, it’s common knowledge amongst fans that the entirety of Assume Form was written for and about Blake’s partner, Jameela Jamil.

If you are ever given a chance to see James Blake live, this is a definite opportunity to experience someone so talented, alongside appreciating the simple but effective light show which suited his performance perfectly.

Watch James Blake’s recent music video for ‘Barefoot in The Park’ below.


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Live Editor 2019/20 & third year English student. Probably watching Gilmore Girls

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