James Blunt at the Royal Albert Hall
Love him or loathe him, James Blunt is back, continuing his world tour at the Royal Albert Hall in the wake of the release of his fourth album Moon Landing. His critics have been harsh in the past, labelling his music as sentimental pap for loved-up couples and weeping singles, while his military roots and blue-blooded connections have won him little favour in the public eye.
Tonight, however, Blunt abounds with energy, treating his fans to a surprisingly upbeat set of new tracks and old favourites. He begins with songs from his recent album, including Face the Sun and Bonfire Heart. There’s the pretty and alliterative Blue on Blue and I’ll Take Everything is complete with screeching guitar and twitching dance moves from Blunt. These new efforts seem to follow the well-worn pattern of his previous hits consisting of catchy yet bland rhythms and hackneyed lyrics. However, clever and intricate touches enliven the songs in a live setting; ukuleles give a buoyant touch to the usually sombre Goodbye My Lover, Doors-style piano solos add a punchy vitality to So Long, Jimmy and Blunt’s request for people to shine their phones during Heart to Heart casts a twinkling glimmer throughout the room, accentuating the tinkling piano.
Blunt’s dry sarcasm and witty lines are the most surprising and enjoyable aspects of the evening – he’s engaging and not afraid to scoff at himself or highlight what others have berated.
Despite past failings – You’re Beautiful was recently voted one of the most annoying songs of all time – it appears that Blunt’s flame still burns strong, especially in the eyes of his loyal supporters who grow rowdier and rowdier as the night goes on, with cries of “C’mon Blunty” rebounding through the gilded hall.
It’s clear from his band’s space suit uniforms to his piano jives and spectacular light show that Blunt has set out to create a spectacle of a show, and it is one that is pleasantly surprising.
Photos: Erol Birsen
For further information and future events visit James Blunt’s website here.
Watch the video for Bonfire Heart here: