James Blunt: Live

2008-05-27 19:31
It's his first appearance in South Africa at The Dome, in Joburg. I arrive early to take some photographs, and meet the man who’s penned some of the most amazing songs I have ever heard. When I enter the VIP interview area, my smile grows. He's chatting up nu-folk babe Josie Field , the support act. "We going to have a drink after the show?" he invites her. "And the first one to throw up is a ninny". Yes gentlemen, the rumours of Bluntie’s babe-pulling prowess might just be true. He is full of life, more confident and more inspiring than I ever could've hoped for.

And Josie? Self assured, proud and pelting out songs from her CD, Mercury like her life depended on it. Forget the Alanis, Sheryl Crow or Karma Ann comparisons, here’s an original singer who has gone from strength to strength. Her upcoming new album is definitely going to be something to look forward to.

And then the main event: it's 9 pm, and the crowd is bubbling under, like a half-opened bottle of poppers. The lights dim. The girls slip into their seats. Wearing a light grey suit and T shirt, James Blunt’s voice erupts like a landmine. His back-up band all sport fancy emo haircuts and look like members of The Click Five. With that trademark monkey logo on his guitar strap, he shouts "Hello Johannesburg!"
Every bit the entertainer, James looks like he is having more fun than he has ever had tonight. I’ve been told that "You're Beautiful" was voted the most played song at weddings…and "Goodbye My Lover" the most played song at funerals he grins. As it seems I have life and death pretty much covered, I thought I’d write a song about divorce. This one is called "I'll Take Everything". For a guy who’s had his fair share of being panned by critics for his 'metro-sexual' appeal, it’s becoming obvious why grown men are threatened by him: they’re jealous.

It’s an emotional trip. Nowhere more so than during the poignant show stopper "No Bravery" (off Back to Bedlam) which finds James spotlighted at his piano while images of war and grief are projected onto the big screen. With the recent attacks of Xenophobia plaguing South Africa, his message hits me hard in the gut.

As the show goes on - and the fans get slightly drunker - the energy is lifted. The vibe steps up from sitting to standing. Crazed fans flock to the front of the stage in a bid to shake their asses, only to be dragged back to their seats. James is surfing his piano – literally – and thrumming his acoustic guitar as if he were Led Zeppelin’s Jimmy Page. A 20-something babe is dancing in between the aisles - topless. No bodyguards run to hide her nakedness. Instead, she is left - in full view of James - wiggling her tiny little breasts. Like naked bees to sticky honey…yeah, James Blunt must definitely pull.

- Painter Jane

"You're Beautiful" is a double-edged sword for British soldier turned singer songwriter James Blunt. His breakthrough ballad proved such a global smash hit it stained radio with its success. Too much airplay created a monster out of it which inevitably meant that most people now cringe when they hear it. But it's this beautiful ballad that made a down-to-earth army boy one of the most famous people on the planet.

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