The night of Tuesday, May 7th was one of musical splendor. The evening hosted the first of two high-demand New York shows at Terminal 5 for the future soul master that is James Blake. The UK crooner brought out a crowd that is unheard of at such shows, a mass of actual cool people. You had your hipsters clad in dark framed glasses and five-panel hats, college bros that are venturing out to new musical territories, tastemakers, and couples that danced to a rhythm that no one else heard. This group was mature and well attuned to Blake's galaxy-surfing sound.
His set began a minute early, at 8:59 PM to be exact, with an attention-grabbing introduction of “Unluck”. The stage was clad in blue-green light adding a dreamlike quality to Blake's at-times haunting vocals. Positioned to the right of center-stage, Blake's performance was not focused on his ego, but that of meticulous live-sampling and eclectic sound.
He performed tracks from his latest effort, Overgrown ,sprinkled in with a few songs from his self-titled debut, including “I Never Learnt to Share,” “Limit To Your Love,” and the always popular, “The Wilhelm Scream.” The crowd was incredibly receptive, singing along (when they knew the words) and dancing to a beat of their own.
Highlights included his performance of “Digital Lion," “Retrograde,” and “Voyeur,” which had build-ups that cannot be matched in many live performances. The lighting throughout the performance was near perfect, mixing deep hues of blue, purple, fuchsia and green, adding to the mystical ambience. His haunting vocals were near perfect throughout the evening, soaring and dipping through melodies and electronic syncopations.
The night marked a wonderful New York debut for the singer, who has a second show this week on Thursday, May 9th. There is a reason why he sells out venues; because his music crosses class and gender boundaries, and truly speaks to the soul.