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James Blake, Live In Concert

Each time I see James Blake and his band perform, I feel the extreme rush of hearing something for the very first time. The sound is sharp and visceral; it oddly vibrates the hair on my arms and, at moments of extreme bass, gets me feeling claustrophobic before the inevitable release when Blake sings. It's hopeful, mournful, always thoughtful.

These days, Blake seems to be in love, and the songs from his new album Overgrown reflect that emotional dance. As with love, the music isn't simple, isn't predictable and isn't always easy to comprehend, but it's intense and riveting. This concert took place on a Sunday night at the 9:30 Club in Washington, D.C., and the relatively quiet crowd could have been mistaken for uncaring or laid-back. But as I walked around the room catching the faces of so many, it was clearly an intensely attentive audience.

On keyboards and voice, Blake performs alongside an innovative and intriguing drummer in Ben Assiter, as well as Rob McAndrews on keyboards, guitars that don't always sound like guitars, and the all-encompassing bass sound he generates using bass pedals — meant for the feet but played with his hands. This is 90 minutes of some of the most breathtaking music I've heard and seen all year. I'm so glad we captured the moment.

Set List

"Air & Lack Thereof"
"I Never Learnt To Share"
"To The Last"
"I Am Sold"
"Our Love Comes Back"
"Digital Lion"
"Limit To Your Love"
"The Wilhelm Scream"
"A Case Of You"


Producers: Bob Boilen, Robin Hilton; Editor: Denise DeBelius; Audio Engineering: Kevin Wait; Videographers: Christopher Parks, Gabriella Garcia-Pardo, Maggie Starbard; Special Thanks: The 9:30 Club; Executive Producers: Anya Grundmann, Keith Jenkins

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In 1988, a determined Bob Boilen started showing up on NPR's doorstep every day, looking for a way to contribute his skills in music and broadcasting to the network. His persistence paid off, and within a few weeks he was hired, on a temporary basis, to work for All Things Considered. Less than a year later, Boilen was directing the show and continued to do so for the next 18 years.