James Blake & Vince Staples Bring New Energy to Radio City Music Hall Show
Weaving together non-traditional pop and emotive electronic melodies, British singer-songwriter James Blake filled New York's Radio City Music Hall on Monday night (Oct. 3), with support from openers Moses Sumney and Vince Staples. The legendary venue has hosted shows for A-listers like Adele, who commanded the stage last November, as well as welcoming relative newcomers like Bryson Tiller and Alessia Cara.
"Radio City, how the f--k you feeling tonight?," Staples asked the crowd. The West Coast MC’s energy radiated throughout the arena as he plowed through favorites like “Lemme Know,” featuring songstress Jhene Aiko, and “Birds & Bees," both from his 2015 Def Jam debut Summertime ’06. "Another day in sunny California, the Feds taking pictures and they tapping Motorolas," rapped Staples during his endition of the song "3230," bringing his native Long Beach to the Big Apple.
Red, blue and purple lights lit up Staples’ set as he danced through the hazy fog. The 23-year-old rhymer didn’t need much backup as he moved around the stage with zeal, boasting only a mic and his DJ. Staples’ performance took listeners through his humble beginnings and present fame. Midway through, Staples transitioned from his Summertime ’06 days to his more recent cuts like "Prima Donna," the title track off his 2016 EP, before jumping into his guest verse on With You.'s trippy electronic collab "Ghost." Staples then ended his set with a pair of LP hits: "Norf Norf" and "Summertime."
Carrying on the night’s minimalist vibe, headliner Blake emerged on stage in a bright pink circle of light, as his guitarist, drummer and pianist filled each of the three mini platforms surrounding the main stage. The U.K. multi-hyphenate artist smoothly launched into "Always," a Frank Ocean-co-written track off latest album The Color In Anything. The vibrant arrangement of "Life Around Here" sent waves of bright lights throughout the iconic venue, as geometric shapes bounced around on the stage's backdrop -- a consistent theme throughout Blake's performance. "We're gonna play as much music as possible," Blake said to his fans. "It's such an honor to play here."
Fans yelled praise as the singer blazed through cuts like "Timeless," "Limit To Your Love" and "Forward" -- the latter, his collaboration with Beyonce on her 2016 album Lemonade. Blake then briefly turned the music hall into a rave as he amplified "Voyeur" with a funky electric baseline, rallying attendees to their feet as they moved to the rhythmic melody.
His soulful vocals then carried an emotional performance of the Color in Anything title track, before Blake threw back to his 2013 single "Retrograde." A bright pink moon entered the screen behind him and transformed into a white background with butterflies. The scene during James Blake's finale was both somber and triumphant, as he ended the show with 2011's "The Wilhelm Scream," a song written by his father, James Litherland.
"This thing we've got going on here took a while to get to this point," Blake related in a thank-you speech to his fans. "The thing about doing [music] is that you can do it in many ways. We've chosen the path of most resistance."