(State Theatre, Detroit, MI - March 24th, 2006)
Not that any one probably really cares, but James Blunt first sought entry into the music industry upon finishing four years in the Army. 'Back to Bedlam', Blunt's debut album, was released in 2005, but not before lead single 'You're Beautiful' had spent many weeks at number one on the UK singles chart did he finally get the chance to musically then take the world by storm.
Held at Detroit's State Theatre - having first been announced at a much, much smaller one and then changed to a medium sized one, before finally everyone settling on the one we were all packed into tonight - even three hours before the show Blunt's tix were changing hands outside the venue for up to $100 each.
And from the time the lights went down at 10.00pm exactly, the sounds of "Stuck In The Middle With You" gently fading away, for the following hour and twenty minutes the 28-year-old British singer-songwriter provided one of the most enthralling displays of musicianship that the venue had ever scene.
Accompanied by his band of finely-tuned merry men, Blunt uncharacteristically bounds on stage and armed with a ferocious smile, fearlessly proceeds to belt out most of 'Back To Bedlam's 10 songs. Blunt's slim, attractively rumpled figure then zig-zagged from one side of the stage to the other, playing the crowd like a seasoned pro, his supposedly quiet demeanor not evident in these opening barbs.
Blunt's gravelly voice and bleeding-heart lyrics are definitely a hit with women, who assiduously sing along and offer ear-piercing screams whenever a lull or an end of a song is brought forth.
Switching back and forth between guitar and piano and backed by a competent but stolid four-man band, Blunt sang the wistful, weepy songs on his album - 'High,' 'Goodbye My Lover,' 'Tears And Rain,' 'So Long Jimmy' - with his reedy falsetto, and even threw in a couple of "Hello, Detroit"'s for good measure.
With only the one album of songs to cull from, Blunt chose to also showcase a couple of new songs. Both on the low downbeat, 'Because I Love You' was probably the more accessible tasting of his next album. One of the show highlights included 'No Bravery,' Blunt's confessional about his past experience as a reconnaissance officer in the British Army, for which he played piano whilst a screen behind him showed footage of bombed-out Bosnian villages.
Another highlight came during the encore for which he saved a worthy rendition of The Pixies' preeminent 'Where Is My Mind?' and, of course, his hit single 'You're Beautiful' ... which he sensibly let the audience yell “f***ing high” (changed to “flying high” on the radio!). With the entire latter half of the song backed by the audience, the tune resonated throughout the theatre in a most splendid style.
Review & Photo by Russell A. Trunk