James Blake Makes Florida Debut at Basel 2014, Plays New Song "Forever"

Keep New Times Free
I Support
  • Local
  • Community
  • Journalism
  • logo

Support the independent voice of Miami and help keep the future of New Times free.

James Blake

Presented by III Points and Young Arts

Young Arts Campus, Miami

Friday, December 5, 2014

Better Than: Sunday mass.

We're not really a religious bunch. But last night, James Blake took us to church.

The English artist brought heavenly chords and a voice like honey to his Florida debut at Miami's Young Arts Campus for III Points and YoungArts' Basel 2014 music series.

Oh, and he made his first time count, giving adoring fans a number of deep cuts, like the recently released "200 Press," and even unleashing "Forever," a never-before-heard taste from his forthcoming album, for the encore.

See Also: James Blake Talks New Album, Possible Kanye West Collaboration

We could have sat there listening to Blake all night. It was easily the most transcendent 90 minutes of our week.

The performance had been a long time coming for the city of Miami. Promoters have been vying for the chance to bring the "Wilhelm Scream" producer to the Sunshine State since he first took over soundwaves as a dubstep king. Mind you, Blake is of the old-school style, much more akin to UK garage and house music than anything most Americans would recognize as wub-wubs.

Blake's time in the DJing world is perhaps most apparent in the tasteful dynamics of his work. He knows how to take a crowd on a journey, with plenty of time for sorrow, joy, elation, loss, hesitation, and even a good fist-pump or two.

Blake hit the stage at 10:30 p.m., sending ripples through the crowd, as everyone turned to look before running over from the back lounge and bars.

He began with his moving, often-performed rendition of Bill Withers' "Hope She'll Be Happier," casting a spell on the hundreds in front of him with a soft delivery amid quiet, yellow light. Only a minute or so in, and it was already shaping up to be a spiritual experience.

He followed with "Radio Science," a tale of heartbreak with an edge. Then he and his band kept things moving, turning things up in proper Miami style with some Latin rhythms for "CMYK."

See also: EDM's Five Greatest Delusions

All night, Blake's set was incredibly well paced. He knows just when to reel you in or give you room to dance. His peaks will make you sweat and his valleys are so deep, you'll cry.

He thanked the crowd here and there, but mostly let the music do the talking. The lights played perfectly off of his moods. At his softest moments, it'd be him under a single silver spotlight, then they'd flash violently as the bass would kicked in and his chords deconstructed like from the belly of a haunted organ.

Of course, nothing is perfect. Throughout the set, there was the usual Miami talkativeness. And at the show's quietest moments, it was occasionally even a little embarrassing. But if the piano man took any notice, he didn't seem to care.

After dazzling with big hits "Retrograde" and "Wilhelm Scream," he seemed genuinely moved by the crowd's love. "Thank you, you've been amazing," he said, and took a bow.

The adoration erupted when he left the stage dark, and he soon returned with the tease from his forthcoming album, a new song called "Forever." It's another beautiful, introspective piece, which he performed alone on the piano.

From the sounds of it, Blake's new record is tinged with recent heartbreak, and with what we know about his collaborating with heartbreak kid Kanye West, we couldn't be more excited to hear how it all comes together.

For now, we'll have to be content with the memories of last night. At least they should be warm enough to get us through winter.

Critic's Notebook

James Blake's Setlist

-"Hope She'll Be Happier"

-"Radio Science"

"Air and Lack Thereof"


-"I Never Learnt to Share"

-"To The Last"

-"Limit To Your love"

-"A Case Of You"


-"Life 'Round Here"

-"200 Press"



-"Wilhelm Scream"



Crossfade's Top Blogs

-Five Signs You Might Be a Shitty DJ

-EDM: Five Most Annoying Buzzwords

-Ten Worst Raver Cliches

Follow Kat Bein on Twitter @KatSaysKill.

Follow Crossfade on Facebook and Twitter @Crossfade_SFL.

Keep Miami New Times Free... Since we started Miami New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Miami, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Miami with no paywalls.

We use cookies to collect and analyze information on site performance and usage, and to enhance and customize content and advertisements. By clicking 'X' or continuing to use the site, you agree to allow cookies to be placed. To find out more, visit our cookies policy and our privacy policy.


Join the New Times community and help support independent local journalism in Miami.


Join the New Times community and help support independent local journalism in Miami.