Dual blogged on Irish News Review
James Blunt. Two words that can cause so much division, usually followed by vitriol, and few can justifiably explain why. Nobody was more sick of hearing the constant refrain of “… you’re beautiful…” across airwaves in the last ten years than the man himself and sadly most people missed the fact that he is an exceptional talent in the meantime. On Thursday night he reminded a near full 3Arena just how good he is.
Ten years ago you couldn’t avoid this guy. His debut album Back To Bedlam sold millions and the singles came wave after wave. The curious thing however was that if you made it past track 5, the epic “Goodbye My Lover”, you made it past the singles territory and into some impressively dynamic and heavy music. Not to say what comes first is bad, but it is my reckoning that a lot of people gave up at the fiftieth listen of “You’re Beautiful”, which is a shame. What I find craziest is that all of his three albums since then have tread similar water but all carry far more balls than said track.
The first thing I have to note about Blunt live is that he’s a lunatic. I last saw him back in the RDS when All The Lost Souls had just hit and at the time he seemed to be doing his best to shrug off the moody singer songwriter persona he was so unfairly labelled with. Nearly ten years on and he’s nailed it. Anyone who expects to be greeted with a moody stage setup and solitary musicians will be quite surprised at his gigs. Blunt and his band took to the stage wearing flight suits (“we’re not electricians, we’re not mechanics, we’re f**king spacemen!”) in keeping with the theme of the Moon Landing Tour. The backline are stoic and undaunted in the cavernous arena, meanwhile the man himself is bouncing about the stage like a child that lost his Ritalin. In the best possible way.
If you like them, which I do, the songs are class. For all of his immense musical talent (piano, guitar and ukulele guys), Blunt’s music could maybe be classed as a little safe lyrically. And your point is? Some of the high and mightier critics of the world may frown upon songs like “Postcards” and “Goodbye My Lover” as derivative and generic, but even though they’re not; who cares? There are slots available in all styles of music for every walk of artist, it’s the whole point. Personally, I would consider some of his stuff sub par and formulaic were it not for the fact that he has made it abundantly clear that he has a serious focus on music that is backed up by huge talent both musically and indeed for the majority of time lyrically. Anyway, I’ll try not drag this into a Blunt defence any more.
The night as a whole was exceptional entertainment but the home stretch had a notable step up in gear, and the absolutely huge “So Long, Jimmy” once again proved a highlight of the night, allowing all on stage their chance to kick some ass on their respective musical instruments, most notably the organist who we were only informed at the close of the gig had been drafted in last minute for the show. Kudos indeed. I hesitated a little before buying tickets for this gig, to me the output since All The Lost Souls has been good but lacking a little up against said album. I will not hesitate again, given that I can safely say this was one of my gigs of the year without doubt. Good to have you back James.