BY VISHAL NYAYAPATHI// On Thursday, February 21st, James Blake performed at The Anthem on the North American leg of his Assume Form tour.
Following the dreamy, monotone opening set by Khushie, Blake arrived on stage just after 9 o’clock. Accompanied by two additional band members (one of whom operated a stunning modular synth rack) and the familiar fluttering piano riffs of the title track from his latest album Assume Form, Blake began what would be a mind-blowing, genre-defying performance. As a panel of white, orange and red lights danced behind him, Blake seamlessly flowed between sonic motifs of trap, soul, and bass music.
One of the most impressive aspects of Blake’s performance was the modesty that informed every one of his movements and decisions.
This was especially present in the organization of the stage, as Blake was situated on a platform stage left while his drummer took centerstage. Shifting attention away from himself on stage reflected his usual reclusiveness from press and social media. Later, while attempting to build a live vocal loop for his performance of “Lullaby For My Insomniac”, Blake mistakenly didn’t record one of his takes. Almost as a break of character, he let loose a bright laugh, exclaiming, “It isn’t a good show without a f*** up.” Moments like these brought out a lighter aspect of his personality that often gets lost in the complexities of his recorded work.
My only disappointment was that the percussion and bass from Mile High did not translate as well in a live setting, as I expected. However, that was in no way a deal breaker.
If you’re trying to get into your feelings but still catch a groove, definitely check out Assume Form on Spotify, Apple Music, or wherever else you get your music.