Most famous for his 2004 hit single ‘You’re Beautiful’ that flooded every radio station, James Blunt made his appearance at the Max Pavilion in Singapore Expo last Friday (23rd March 2018). Singapore marked the first stop for the British singer-songwriter’s The Afterlove tour in Asia where he will be travelling to Malaysia, Hong Kong, Taiwan and China next. The Afterlove marks Blunt’s fifth album where collaborators include Ed Sheeran and Ryan Tedder of OneRepublic.
Rocking in a black T-shirt and blue jeans, the award-winning artist opened the night with ‘Heart to Heart’ from his 2013 album Moon Landing and mixed up the old with the new – from Back to Bedlam’s ‘Wisemen’ and ‘High’ to The Afterlove’s ‘Time of Our Lives’, ‘Someone Sing Along’, and ‘Lose My Number’. Also from his latest album, Blunt shares about ‘Make Me Better’ – a song he wrote with Ed Sheeran in Switzerland where he taught the red-haired singer how to ski. He describes the song that is dedicated to his wife and son as deeply personal and even slightly uncomfortable sharing it with the world, as he has always been private about his personal life. The lyrics of ‘Make Me Better’ brim with raw emotions – “You are everything I have never been, I want you to make me better. And I’ve been wondering, why you let me in”.
Blunt also performed crowd favorites, ‘Goodbye My Lover’ and ‘You’re Beautiful’, which lived up to the British singer’s fame as he delivered the songs passionately in his raspy melodic voice. The artist also got the audience on their feet as he performed ‘Ok’, a chart-topper of Billboard’s Dance Club Songs and produced by Robin Schulz. He ended the night on a high note, with All the Lost Soul’s ‘1973’ followed by ‘Bonfire Heart’ from Moon Landing.
The Afterlove is a significant shift away from the British singer’s usual music style. From soft rock and soothing pop to tinges of electronic and upbeat tempo, the fifth album leans towards contemporary tones where I find myself nostalgic of his older songs that were riddled with sensitivity and intimacy. Perhaps this explains my personal favorites from The Afterlove – ‘Courtney’s Song’, ‘Time of our Lives’ and ‘2005’. Nonetheless, his emotive vocals and ardent performance had concert-goers, myself included, serenaded. Listening to Blunt live was like having him take us through an array of experiences – from romance to melancholy as well as exuberance.
Review by Violet Koh