James Blunt Gently Rocks Moscow’s Club B1
Text and photos, James Quentin
An hour and twenty minutes late for his Moscow debut, James Blunt was treading dangerously close to A.R.S.T. (Axl Rose Standard Time). In fact, the first Blunt song was sung not by the artist but by a restless audience who collectively karaoke “You’re Beautiful,” the singer’s 2005 breakthrough hit, surprisingly well.
Blunt proved himself a wait worth while when he stormed the stage for the funk fueled set opener “Breathe Wearing a two-piece suit and white Oxfords, he appeared to the Moscow audience as being very British.
Taking rare breaks between songs to thank the audience (in Russian) and to trade his guitar for a keyboard, the singer put on a swift two hour set filled with hits from both of his albums, Back to Bedlam and All the Lost Souls. One of the highlights was a killer cover of Slade’s “Coz I Luv You,” during which Blunt jumped on top of his keyboard, and led a perfect call and response with the energized fans.
James broke out the emotional hits: “Good Bye My Love” and “You’re Beautiful” for the fans that were all too happy to sing along. Stepping back from the mic, the singer allowed crowd participation to take over the 3,000-capacity venue as he soloed on the guitar under the blue spotlight.
Possibly the quietest moment in rock concert history came when Blunt played “I Really Want You” on an acoustic guitar without the help of a sound system as the audience held its collective breath. When the song climaxed with a piano fade-in and purple lights bringing the rest of the band out of the dark, so did the audience, erupting in music and cheers.
It was not all about the ladies, though they seemed to outnumber men three to one. After joking about the stiff VIP’s sitting in the balcony with servers running circles around them, the singer pointed to the crowd standing at his feet and said, “these are the best seats in the house,” before kicking into fist pumping, alcohol infused “Turn Me On” and “So Long, Jimmy.”
For an encore, as the cigarette smoke thickened the sweat-fed humidity, a prom atmosphere broke out complete with a disco ball and mood lighting. Love-struck couples danced and made out to “One of the Brightest Stars” and “Same Mistake.” Concluding with “1973,” the gentleman in James Blunt walked around the stage, thanking the audience and accepting a rose from an excited fan.
I Really Want You
Carry You Home
I’ll Take Everything
Goodbye My Lover
Out of My Mind
Coz I Luv You (Slade cover)
Turn Me On
So Long, Jimmy
One of the Brightest Stars