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Unknowable, undefined.
Within this universe of possibilities, will we ever learn to share?
The entity that is James Blake began his Boston performance last week at House of Blues with this precise question in the form of the mystifying and structural tour de force 3rd song from his self-titled debut album. He then synchronizes effortlessly into ‘Life Round Here’, also the 3rd song but from his sophomore release “Overgrown”. Being within feet of this voice & musical arrangement I imagine is comparable to strolling through the Elysian Fields, while simultaneously swimming among the lost souls of the Styx.

Transfixing, to say the least.

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Those wise & lucky enough to have known of Mr. Blake for years were treated to his oddly fantastic dubstep tune from 2009: Air & Lack Thereof.

The massive tunes of ‘Overgrown’, ‘I am Sold’, & ‘Digital Lion’ woke up the nocturnal crowd. I have a feeling many of us common folk weren’t sure how to react. Most remained still or shimmied slightly about, quietly singing along, while others looked as though they were under hypnosis. There were also siren calls from fans at random moments. Myself, I danced as though no one was watching. A friend of mine cried during the Joni Mitchell cover “A Case of You”, while another got accosted by a seemingly doting couple.

You’d think it was a full moon with the myriad ‘weird’ experiences of those in attendance, but this fits the mood perfectly. James Blake is weird as well as tremendous (in physical height) & in creativity. If Jeopardy curated a category of him who would be amid his peers? I’m hard pressed to think of a name. Producers need to step their game up, or hop into a time machine & get to whatever future James’ mind dwells in.

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Admittedly, my fandom began not too long ago. I had heard his critically acclaimed music before, but didn’t “get it”. The light bulb finally went on when upon first hearing “Voyeur” played through on Technics. I was quite pleased when James addressed the crowd claiming the song to be the most representative of his 1-800-Dinosaur label.

The audience, of course, went wild for “Retrograde” & “Wilhelm Scream”, unfortunately this joie de vivre was a bit late as these were his last two songs. Before James’ one man gospel encore of “Measurements”, he asks us to remain silent. As he walks off the stage with the lights dimmed, it’s as though a single tree left the forest. Eerie. Brilliant.

Topping off the evening the venue speakers play Dawn Penn’s happy to be melancholy dancehall track ‘No, no, no’, & we’re off, but not finished.

An hour & a half after the show he appears, walking to his tour bus to a small group of fans, myself included. I feel incomplete without meeting an artist after a show, so I nonchalantly waited in the wings with my McDonald’s fast food & was fortunate enough to briefly chat with the singer.

I find out that James Blake’s favorite ice cream is the Cadbury crunchie:

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& that the one album he would take with him on a deserted island is Outkast’s Speakerboxxx/The Love Below:

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Maybe he is just like one of us.

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words + live show photos: Georgette Bibber

portrait: Guarionex Rodriguez Jr.

 

-GEORGETTE BIBBER @gegesdiary