Live Review: James Blake

27 July 2016 | 7:51 pm | Samantha Jonscher

"Blake has harnessed all of his technical might and emotional vulnerability to transform the Hordern into a chapel..."

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It was initially unclear how James Blake's intimate, moody, bedroom sounds would play in the vast cavern of the Hordern Pavilion. His newest release, The Colour In Anything, is built for paranoid, solitary contemplation in its more introspective moments, while in its most kinetic turns it conjures, dark, low-ceilinged European dancefloors. The album deals with lost connections and emotional chasms, "is this how you feel?" he asks on the opening track Radio Silence. For all of these reasons it seemed like his music may confirm its own bias in the Hordern and find itself lost and unable to connect: so much of the album, after all, is in the details.

By the end of his opening few tracks, Blake has harnessed all of his technical might and emotional vulnerability to transform the Hordern into a chapel — two women close by confirm as much, calling it a "religious experience". Radio Silence invites a reverent sway, as does Life Round Here. From here, he moves into his dancefloor-ready offerings. These are dark and minimal, maxing out at Limit To Your Love which gained a dark, persistent and fluttering bass line from Blake's guitarist. The space suddenly feels a lot smaller and the set lingers here in his early work, playing with pulsing rhythms and chaotic loops.

He rounds out the evening with a particularly chilling rendition of his break out hit Retrograde, reimagining the track to fit The Colour In Anything's emotional pallet, and a well deserved shout-out to his guitarist and drummer, "It took a long time to get here with no laptops". This work has paid off. What may have been a flat show for all of its quiet details and raw falsetto is transformed into a full-body experience that manages to retain Blake's emotional texture.