Live Review: James Blake, Mark Pritchard

28 July 2016 | 12:56 pm | Joe Dolan

"The trio's ability to replicate their recorded sound live is so astounding that it becomes borderline questionable."

More James Blake More James Blake

A single solitary figure wanders around the stage of Margaret Court Arena before revealing himself to be Mark Pritchard with an upsurge of ambient electronica. Pritchard begins his set with mellow sounds of woodwinds and chimes, but over the course of his hour-long performance, the Melbourne-based DJ and producer slowly builds his sound into a full-blown electro spectacular. Pritchard astounds the beckoned crowd with interspersions of unexpected samples, jumping seamlessly from a Siouxsie And The Banshee remix to a recording of poet E. E. Cummings. Pritchard's set lends itself to bouts of monotony at times, but is overall an incredible display of musicianship.

A bellowing roar from the crowd erupts as James Blake and his band make their way to the blackened stage. Wasting no time the trio explode into an extended mix of new track Always and the critically acclaimed Life Round Here, warranting a scream of adulation from long-time fans. The soft-spoken Blake remains seated behind his piano for the duration of the performance. "It's just so overwhelming" he proclaims to the sea of faces looking back at him, who reciprocate the feeling tenfold. The audience cannot help but show their love with as much noise as possible, echoing loudly into the live looping of Blake in Radio Silence — a recurring reminder of these fan's devotion.

Blake's band mates, drummer Ben Assiter and synth/guitarist Rob McAndrews, are in phenomenal form tonight. Blake reminds the crowd that there is "no computers, no automation" tonight. The trio's ability to replicate their recorded sound live is so astounding that it becomes borderline questionable. Even Blake's vocals are pitch perfect, effortlessly transitioning between belting and falsetto to encapsulate the crowd with his stunning tones.

The band can jump genres at the drop of a hat, suddenly bouncing from the rave-style I Hope My Life to the intimate solo The Colour In Anything. It is all so typical of Blake's signature sound, clambering over layers and sounds to create something ultimately mesmerising.

Don't miss a beat with our FREE daily newsletter

After a run of favourites including Retrograde and the Joni Mitchell cover A Case Of You, Blake and co bring it home with a jaw-dropping encore of The Wilhelm Scream. It's seems the perfect song to end the night, but Blake surprises all with a solo performance of Measurements. Looping perfect harmonies and a few little cheers from the crowd, Blake exits the stage with a single bow while the live-mixed track plays out. Slightly confusing but nonetheless superb, it is typical Blake in the best way.