Throughout the past decade, James Blake has built a rock solid following with his dynamic voice, compelling songwriting and experimental production. Collaborating alongside of some of the world’s biggest artists such as Kendrick Lamar, Beyoncé, and Frank Ocean, the 33 year old artist continues to captivate the world by storm. Currently touring in support of his fifth studio album, Friends that Break Your Heart, James Blake delivered a mesmerizing performance to a nearly sold out audience at his recent Hollywood Bowl performance.
Part of KCRW’s World Fest, the Hollywood Bowl served as the perfect acoustic backdrop for Blake’s performance. Blake was supported by the Thomas Wilkins and the Hollywood Bowl orchestra who also opened the night for the Grammy-Award winning artist just as the sun was setting. By the time the sun had completely gone down, the entire venue was packed to the brim, ready for Blake to officially begin his set.
Blake’s performance highlighted some newer material as well as some of the best parts of his musical discography. Blake began the night with two of his emotive new lead singles “Famous Last Words” and “Life is Not The Same” featured on his new album Friends that Break Your Heart. The visually stunning lighting was perfectly set to match the theme, feeling, and emotional fervor behind the track, a trend that would remain throughout the night. The lights also continuously switched color throughout his performance. Rounding out the beginning of his set with the notorious and soulful collaboration with Chance the Rapper “Life Round Here” and his notorious cover of Feist’s “Limit to Your Love” from 2011’s Self-Titled.
The renowned Hollywood Bowl Orchestra then took center stage with Blake for five unforgettable songs that helped drastically increase his musicality. Blake and the orchestra began their set with “Say What You Will,” the third lead single featured on Friends that Break Your Heart. The fusion of Blake’s incredibly strong yet smooth voice, his ingenious band, and the eighty-piece orchestra produced a majestic sound that reverberated off the Hollywood Hills.
Next up were Blake’s experimental leaning track “I Keep Calling” and “I’ll Come Too.” The Hollywood Bowl Orchestra helped breathe new life into the catchy tracks. Blake then transitioned into performing a live rendition of “Retrograde” that magically helped catapult audience members into outer space. Blake commenced the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra portion of his set on an epic high note with a cover of Roberta Flack’s “The First Time I Ever Saw Your Face.”
Blake’s band then returned to help Blake finish off his set. The live drums proved to be a focal point of the band, further helping raise the intensity and vibe of his live set. Blake delivered a super smooth cover of Frank Ocean’s “Godspeed,” which he then followed up with his passionate and emotive Travis Scott collaboration “Mile High.” Blake and his band then changed up the vibe with the dance track “Voyeur,” which was accompanied by a full blown hypnotic laser light show. This magically transformed The Hollywood Bowl into an epic Saturday night arena dance party. Blake’s performance was further intensified when he performed the “Wilhelm Scream” live, which left the audience mesmerized and begging for more.
Blake concluded his performance with two moving ballads featured on 2019’s Assume Form, “Are You In Love?” and “Don’t Miss It.” As Blake’s voice reverberated through the crowd, the audience was spellbound by his artistic expression and soulful nature. Blake’s highly revered career has been nothing short of miraculous. The Hollywood Bowl’s remarkable acoustics and stunning visual display as well as their prodigious orchestra helped make Blake’s fall 2021 Los Angeles headline performance nothing short of otherworldly.