On one of the warmest days in October, London based electronic artist James Blake stopped by Montréal to promote his third studio album The Colour in Anything. Coated with interesting vocoder effects that are complimented by textured production adding depth to each song, Blake brought his latest piece of work to the Metropolis stage for everyone to groove to. With opening act Moses Sumney, who had his set cut short due to technical difficulties, everyone was enthralled when the eloquent UK producer took the stage with his drummer and guitarist. “Always” was the first song to start off the night and got everyone looking forward to the rest of Blake’s set.
The following track “Life Round Here” enlightened the audience to some of Blake’s best work off his prior LP Overgrown. The venue was packed and slowly filled with more people halfway through the song. “Life Round Here” seamlessly transitioned into “Choose Me” which was executed in great fashion, blending two tracks from separate albums into one cohesive piece. The show had only been underway for fifteen minutes at this point, yet Blake still managed to make the first few tracks feel like a full experiences in of itself. Paying attention to the audience, it was fascinating to see how attentive everyone was towards the musicians onstage.
The light effects at the show were incredible and matched the tone of music exceptionally well. Nothing was to over the top for what was on stage, it all was appropriate for the delicate sounds that the electronic soul artist has produced over the span of his career. Halfway through the set, Blake played his remix of the song “Stop What You’re Doing” by fellow UK producer Untold which kicked the whole concert into full swing. It was my first time coming across the remix and witnessing it for the first time live was mesmerizing, the lights matched the chaotic atmosphere of the song and turned Metropolis into an exclusive nightclub for the duration of the track. The amount of energy the song was able to conjure in the room was magnificent to see unfold.
A roar of cheers enclosed the auditorium after what was one of the most vibrant tracks that had been played that night. The celebration quickly cut short by the silence that soon followed, Blake immediately started playing “Forward” which he wrote for Beyoncé’s latest record, Lemonade, earlier this year. The short tune is poignant and was a pleasant break from all of the ethereal sounds, the stripped down instrumentation on the track brought the performance to life.
The show finished on a track from Blake’s self-titled debut album. “Wilhelms Scream” came off sounding fresh with the maturity of the artists voice over the years since his first record. The slow build in the song towards the grand finish cemented the whole show as one to be remembered. In classic Montréal fashion, the audience refused to stop applauding until they saw the brilliant artist walk back out for an encore, which is exactly what happened after a few more minutes of cheering.
The first song for the encore was a cover of the Joni Mitchell song “A Case of You”. Blake took to the piano and did justice to the cover by pulling off an excellent rendition of the song, soon after bringing the entire show to a full close with the track “Measurements”. It was a night full of rich sounds that seemed fitting for the warm night of October. If you aren’t familiar with James Blake at all, don’t hesitate to start with any piece of work from his discography, it’s well worth the investment and should prepare you for when he rolls into town next time.