I felt a little out of touch with new music towards the end of 2010, so in January I made a New Year's resolution to attend at least 1 gig a week until the end of 2011. The rules are simple: 1. Attend at least one gig a week 2. No duplicate headline acts allowed 3. No stockpiling gigs 4. Where possible, don't attend too many gigs at the same venue (I can bend this one)
Here I'll report back on my weekly musical escapades and any great musical discoveries I make along the way.
Sunday, 6 February 2011
Gig #5: Friday 4 February - hmv Next Big Thing presents: James Blake, The Borderline
The Borderline was packed to the rafters with industry and fashionable folk eagerly awaiting this performance by James Blake. It was definitely the hot ticket of the hmv Next Big Thing festival, evident by the lack of space in the room and folk backed up the stairs trying to catch a glimpse of the man everyone's talking about. James entered the stage accompanied by a drummer and guitarist who he later introduced as two close school friends. As he sat down he said "Next Big Thing, no pressure then" and you kind of felt for him. In the space of a couple of months since all the hot tips for 2011 lists were announced, James has come from the relative unknown, signed to a major record label and found himself the subject of critical scrutiny - this gig had a lot riding on it. His set was short, maybe 5 tracks or so, including the hit 'Limit To Your Love' which included some bass trickery in the dubby parts, making the metal flues on the ceiling shake and the whole venue reverberate. Fans basing their interest in James Blake on this one song may have been disappointed by his other tracks which weren't quite of the same chart-topping mould. Blake is obviously feeling the pressure to deliver, with his album being released tomorrow and having already received some scathing reviews. He said at one point "remember to listen to albums on your own with the lights off before reading reviews" and I couldn't help but think I'd enjoy the music more in that setting too. I wasn't buzzing with excitement by the end of the gig, but then again I wasn't expecting to be. I liked what I'd listened to prior to the gig, but I was always sceptical about how it would translate live. He's evidently a talented producer but the performance of his music is something which needs a bit of work, it's not quite as cohesive as you might expect considering the hype surrounding him. If he successfully rides the storm of critical acclaim in the coming months I have every faith that things will only get bigger and better for James Blake. He's definitely a curious one to watch.