James Blunt at Hammersmith Apollo
How does someone play the same songs again and again and still make a show a success? An engaging approach and an enthusiastic presence on the stage are definitely key ingredients to win the audience, and neither of these seemed to be missing on James Blunt’s The Afterlove Tour date at the Hammersmith Apollo.
Against the assumptions of those who know him only for his melancholic songs, the artist delivered an exceptionally lively performance, bringing a good dose of emotions and poetry to the evening. The opening sequences injected the right energy, with a vibrant Heart to Heart, moving then to an adrenaline-fuelled alternation between guitar and piano for I’ll Take Everything.
The slower flow of Wisemen didn’t let the crowd down – they were up on their feet until the end. After all, as Blunt himself commented, the audience had known since the beginning the chairs would have been for the handbags rather than for actual sitting.
In between the songs, the artist took the chance to say a few words on the six-month tour he has just come back from, with shows also in America. The US president, who Blunt joked about, was the inspiration behind Someone Singing Along, a track featured on his latest album, which reflects on – accompanied last night by footage from the destroyed Syrian territory – walls, wars and the power of voices when they sing together.
The tone of the concert remained high thanks also to the good choices in balancing the setlist, mixing some soft rock pieces with the melodic hits the singer is mostly known for. Lose My Number left a mark, with the help of a mellow atmosphere evoked by grainy black-and-white footage and the stroboscopic lights pulsing around.
Long expected, High and Beautiful enchanted the Apollo. One of the most memorable points of the night, however, was Same Mistake. With macro clips of an angel in freefall behind him, the silhouette of Blunt let the words float in the dark hall, the air illuminated only by crossing beams of lights.
Where the electronic pulses of the new album would have made it into the set rather unfittingly, the trick lay in entertaining the audience with a playful performance: on Bartender, Blunt divided the arena into choruses – which he would direct – and then asked them sit down and stand up merrily.
A romantic dedication to his London fans came along towards the end, with Don’t Give Me Those Eyes, as the singer asked everyone to turn on their smartphone torches, creating a sparkling view of the venue – perfect for a double exposure with the artist’s portrait on the big screen.
Photo: Guifré de Peray
For further information and future events visit James Blunt’s website here.
Watch the video for Someone Singing Along here: