We Can Hope for Heartbreak Now: James Blake @ Rock and Roll Hotel

Golden Boy

Prior to last night’s James Blake show at the Rock and Roll Hotel on H St. NE, I thought I had a relative idea of what to expect, thanks to the pristine performances BBC have uploaded across YouTube. But the show was so much more than that. In an effort to share my experience, I recorded the performance. While it certainly does not recreate the magic we witnessed last night, we hope that it gives you a better idea of who James Blake the performer is, and why you should continue to follow his lead. The files can be found after the jump.

With his forward thinking production techniques, unforeseen crossover appeal and a fresh, clean face, it’s obvious why critics—us included—love James Blake. But last night’s performance was proof that the British dubstep crooner will be a driving force in the progression of pop music for many years to come.

Despite a potential inexperience (based on age alone), a humble, disarming demeanor and sporadic technical difficulties, Blake’s musicianship, integrity and commitment to mood shined supreme. The three-man set-up created a sound equivalent to an entire electronic orchestra and choir, thanks largely to live sampling and sound manipulation. His ability to juggle the brain buzzing heavy tracks like “I Never Learnt to Share” and “Limit to Your Love” and the somewhat straightforward singer/songwriter moments like “Give Me My Month” only continues to prove his talent and diversity. Blake lastly gifted the enraptured crowd with a new, unreleased bittersweet piano ballad that ends on “we can hope for heartbreak now.”

I have no doubt in my mind that the future of pop music is going to hinge upon the mastery of looping techniques, and Blake’s set further solidified that idea. While simultaneously sampling keys, guitar, drums and his own voice, Blake morphed the sound into a towering, yet warm creature. The hypnotic, booming and calming result conjured images of sold-out tours and genre-defining career arcs.

James Blake – Unluck (Live)

James Blake – Give Me My Month (Live)

James Blake – I Never Learnt to Share (Live)

James Blake – To Care (Like You) (Live)

James Blake – Limit to Your Love (Live)

James Blake – NEW SONG “Enough Thunder” (Live)

The entire show can be downloaded here.

Setlist: Unluck, Give Me My Month, Jam I, I Never Learnt to Share, Lindesfarne I+II, To Care (Like You), Jam II, Limit to Your Love, The Wilhelm Scream, NEW SONG “Heartbreak”.

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