The stage was masked in an ethereal purplish blue haze, highlighting Rob McAndrews’ guitar and sampler, Ben Assiter’s drumkit, and James Blake’s keys and synth. At 9:04 P.M. last Tuesday, “And Holy Ghost” gradually started playing and the cries of the giant mass of people filling the House of Blues were answered by the lights and sound, making everyone all too ready for what was next.
As James strolled onstage wearing his 1-800-Dinosaur tee and a long pea coat, this year’s Mercury Prize winner was greeted with cheering and proclamations of love, all to which he replied, “My brother and my sister, don’t speak to me,” opening his glorious set with “I Never Learnt to Share.” After playing his recent collab with Chance the Rapper, “Life Round Here” he spoke for the first and last time that night, commenting on the fact that he crazily saw many familiar faces in the crowd and probably met half of the people on the streets. After thanking everyone numerous times and passing on well wishes, he announced they were going to play everything “old and new,” and that they did, simply killing it with some really stellar sounds off both his first record and latest release.
Throughout the entire evening, the atmosphere was very much unreal and felt like existing in another dimension of chords, beats, lights, and perfect soul-fed rhythms. It was not difficult to tell that everyone in the crowd was losing themselves in the notes and truly feeling it. After each song, you could literally hear people proclaiming just how mind-blown they truly were. Part of what brings James Blake’s music to life is really being able to witness just how humble he is, how much he respects and enjoys performing with Ben and Rob, how tight they all work together, and how fluidly everything meshes together, simply filling the place with good, pure vibes.
An urbane James closed the evening with an encore performance of the song “Measurements,” a profound gospel-inspired favorite. Due to the fact that the song is merely loops of his own voice, he politely asked everyone to try their hardest to not be in the loop. And like magic, he transformed every last one of the energetic, loud, and mesmerized souls into silence.
In between the incredibly parts of silence, the repetitive same four lines illustrating the natural and perfect reverb of James’ voice echoed into the hearts and souls of all. This continued, even after he stood up, left his perch at the keyboard, bowed, and walked off stage like a shadow in the dim lights. To say the performance was spiritual, inherent, newfangled, and awe-inspiring, would sincerely be an understatement. If ever in your life, you have the chance to catch these guys on tour, I would highly recommend it.