Live review: James Blake at The Arches, 11/4/13

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Sold out shows can indeed be curious affairs, these are impressive and curious times for a certain Mr. Blake, with hot off the press latest album Overgrown featuring the might of both super dooper producer Eno and Mr. Wu Tang extraordinaire RZA.

“Glasgow, is quiet for now” he exclaims, but ironically this seems to pave the way for an extended period of generic gossiping among factions in the Arches.

Hailed as the king of post-dubstep, James Blake is every bit the shy boy with an air of mystique, always polite, with a few mumbled thank yous here and there he leaves his talent to do the talking, which is more than can be said of a sizeable chunk of the hipsters in attendance this eve.

Half the time quite what tonight’s audience make of him remains a mystery: a lot of people seem to have turned up with the specific intention of catching up with each other.

They chat blithely on, an indication that Blake –, doubtless happier in the studio than on stage – isn’t grabbing their attention.

Or perhaps not: at the end of each song, they cheer, then go back to talking, perhaps they’re applauding each others brilliant turns of phrase.

Only towards the end of the set with the more familiar ‘hits’ such as ‘The Wilhelm Scream’ and ‘Limit to Your Love’ do the crowd respond with anything associated with the usual Glasgow likes you roaring typically afforded to those of Blake’s ilk.

‘Retrograde’ and ‘To The Last’ would seem the standout live compositions drawn from Overgrown, “is this the darkness or the dawn, suddenly I’m hit” sings Blake who appears much more at ease with the quality of his voice these days.

As the electronic hum disappears we’re engulfed by a steady beat below the virtuoso’s soul-drenched humming as the track fades.

On the other side of the scale the minimalist stripped down beauty that ‘Is To the Last’, complete with extended yet extended further falsetto would justify an entry fee all on its own.

Before retiring for the night, sensing he may have finally pulled the sold out masses from their Twitter updates we are treated to his magnificent version of ‘A Case of You’.

While the hype machine surrounding James Blake over the last couple of years may have questioned some to ask what all the fuss is; on this form there’s no denying his own brand of delicate soul moodscapes deserve more attention than some chose to afford him tonight.

Words: Andy Quigley

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