red lights

Concert Livewire
basement tapes concert reviews cd reviews interviewsticket swap music news

Outside of a few Brit-pop pleasantries,
ballads like "Beautiful" equal boring

James Blunt
Riviera Theatre
Chicago, IL
Feb. 22, 2008
James Blunt James Blunt James Blunt

Story and Photos by Andy Argyrakis

Though longtime military man James Blunt could've quite possibly continued his career as a British Army officer, switching hats to the singer/songwriter circuit turned out to be a much more creative (and lucrative) direction. After performing at SxSW a few years back, he caught the attention of Linda Perry (from 4 Non Blondes and producer extraordinaire) leading to a deal with her very own Custard Records. In 2005, the troubadour released Back to Bedlam (carried by the monster ballad "You're Beautiful") and it's since sold over ten million copies across the globe.

Of course the strength of that single still helps the relative newcomer sell tickets in support of his second CD All the Lost Souls (Custard/Atlantic), which included an area upgrade from the intimate Vic Theatre to the more spacious Riviera. And in the night's early stages, it looked like all the hype was worthwhile thanks to a Brit-pop centering a la Travis or Snow Patrol during "Give Me Some Love" and "Billy." But as the gig wore on, Blunt went from ear-pleasing to pitifully boring, often giving up a sturdier acoustic guitar framework for several tiresome takes at the piano.

When seated behind the pearly whites whining through super snores like "Carry You Home" and "Goodbye My Lover," he seemed no more useful than throwaway tunesmiths like Daniel Powter ("Bad Day"). Although the politically conscious "No Bravery" showed the most songwriting prowess (recalling personal attempts at peacekeeping in Kosovo), it again suffered from the same sonic banality of the above. He resumed acoustic contexts come "Annie" and later "You're Beautiful," the latter of which came across as pathetically sappy, enhanced by obnoxious attendees snapping pictures and calling friends on their cell phone (true traits of a one hit wonder in the making).

But to be fair, Blunt's scored a handful of other singles since the breakout of "Beautiful," most notably the buoyant retro pop of concert closer "1973." He also demonstrated additional love towards that era when providing a fairly lively rendition of Supertramp's "Breakfast In America," complete with a ten second foray over the security barricade and into the crowd. Yet those spurts of energy were few and far between, leaving much of the show in a state of murky introspection (and subsequent background chatter from fans) that might have faired better in the intimacy of the original setting.

What Do You Think?



City & State:

e mail:

Here's Your Chance to.... Respond!

Your feedback will be featured on
Rant or Rave within 24 hours.

Return to Reviews
Return to Menu