treated walls, care for me.
Before I had even left for England, I found out that James Blake would be playing the university union in November and obviously, I got myself a ticket. It was much cheaper than seeing him in Vancouver and I wouldn’t have been able to go to that show as I’d already be in England. From what I heard from friends, James killed it at his sold-out show in Vancouver, even with Bon Iver playing a sold-out show next door at the Orpheum.
I met up with Christine and Maddie before the gig and after a little Echo Falls (nasty), we made our way over to Stylus in the union building. Vondelpark had already hit the stage by the time we got into the venue and they were filling the space with their spacey, atmospheric tunes. I don’t really know much about the group but they’re from Surrey, England and yes, they’re named after that lovely Amsterdam park. Vondelpark set the pace for the rest of night, playing some real chill tracks reminiscent of something à la James Blake with a little of The XX mixed in.
Vondelpark’s set ended and the crew members began to rearrange the stage into a simpler set-up. You could totally feel a change in the atmosphere, excitement buzzing throughout the venue. Fog filtered in and around the stage, the lights dimmed, and James Blake finally took to the stage to a very welcoming audience. With the first few chords of “Unluck,” James had every single person entranced. From this, he played “Tep and the Logic” and “Love What Happened Here” from his forthcoming EP of the same name.
The next bunch of songs that James performed were mainly from his killer self-titled debut from February of this year including my personal favourites “I Never Learnt To Share” and “Limit to Your Love” (see video below). Scattered throughout were a few songs from various EPs: “CMYK,” “Klavierwerke,” and “Once We All Agree.” Seeing James play is a seriously amazing experience. For such chill music, this gig was definitely not lacking in the energy department. He had these amazing walls of sound going on with some pretty heavy bass that literally shook you down to the bones. Not going to lie, I even felt ill at one point and nearly passed out from an intense headache. Thank goodness that passed so I could enjoy the rest of the gig.
After a short break, James came back for his encore, in which he played “AWD” and ended the night with his awesome cover of legendary Canadian folk singer-songwriter Joni Mitchell's “A Case of You” from his most recent EP release, Enough Thunder. I definitely did a little celebratory wave during the “I drew a map of Canada / Oh Canada” part of the song. Once James did a little bow and left the stage, the lights were turned on and the crowd began to disperse. My friends and I waded through the sea of plastic cups with looks of awe on our faces as we left the venue.
Of course, Maddie, Christine, and I wanted to meet James so we walked out to James’ lone tour bus near the Charles Morris residences. Soon, three grew to eight and shrank to five eventually. We endured the frighteningly cold gusts of wind, a vomiting sighting, and the light drizzle for over an hour whilst waiting for Mr. Blake. Just as we were about to give up, James and his buddies were walking to the tour bus.
We all introduced ourselves to James as he shook each of our hands. I was in a daze the entire time we chatted with him so I can’t really remember the exact order of how things went down. James signed the limited edition tour poster I purchased and he thought I was American. Jokingly, I faked upset but I think James actually thought I was offended because I was getting my picture taken with him, he said something along the lines of “Sorry if I had offended you by thinking you were American.” James is such a sweetheart. He’s adorable, talented, and humble, so it’s no wonder he has all the girls (including me) swooning. Hello, new addition to my future husband list! Meeting James was a great way to cap off the night and we went home with enormous smiles on our faces. All in all, it was a great night and I’ll never forget my first concert in the UK!
James and me
My signed poster, which I will be getting framed upon my return to Canada.