James Blunt performing his Moon Landing Tour at The Capital FM Arena Nottingham on Saturday 22nd November 2014 supported by Lacey
Images and Review by Kevin Cooper
Posh he might be but James Blunt remembers the breaks given to him on his way up in the music business, and on this tour he has asked for the assistance of the locals in the cities that he is visiting, to help select an act that will support him at each of the venues around the country.
Tonight it was the turn of Nottingham guitar-pop band Lacey, who were given the chance of a lifetime to play in front of thousands of people in their home city of Nottingham. It was not that long ago that lead singer, Graham Turner was saying that the band aspired to play the likes of The Rescue Rooms or even Rock City, and tonight they exceeded all expectations.
Without showing any nerves, these fresh faced musicians played like veterans, filling the stage with an assured but far from cocky confidence. This performance showcased what a talented band they actually are, performing Burning Out and the powerful ballad, Contender, from their EP, Outlaws, as well as numbers which showcase their indelible melodies and delectable structures such as Change The Story, Find A Way before finishing the set with Tonight.
Lacey are the sound of some mates who just want to have a good time and aren’t ashamed of it. They have a slick proclivity for crafting memorable hooks, which will go down very well when they appear at Rock City later this year. Catch them if you can, you won’t be disappointed.
I am certain that this performance will be the start of bigger things for them and whilst they might for the time being dream of headlining the Arena in their own right, dreams can come true as tonight’s opportunity shows.
With the strains of Richard Straus’s Also Sprach Zarathustra filling The Capital FM Arena, James Blunt’s Moon Landing Tour landed in Nottingham to open the UK leg of his mammoth world tour. Whilst holding the World Record for the highest concert in the world; playing on board a private jet at 41,000 feet, he took us much higher tonight, with his latest album’s name being the visual headline of the evening.
The pianos, drum kit, bassist and guitarist were placed on podiums looking like moon landing vehicles, and the screen at the back showed space related videos, like the start of a space shuttle, the moon and alike. All of this was topped off with Blunt and his band coming on stage dressed in astronaut fatigues.
The show began appropriately enough with Face The Sun, the first track from the Moon Landing album. This was followed by I’ll Take Everything from 2007’s All The Lost Souls, with Blunt still at the piano, striking a dramatic pose, pointing upward from time to time during the tune.
Then something very strange happened. This previously somewhat reserved and unassuming artist threw his stool across the stage, much to the total confusion of this crowd as well as his roadies. But getting back on track, Blunt then moved from piano to centre stage, strapping on his acoustic guitar for Blue On Blue, another track from Moon Landing which was delivered in a very melodramatic way.
He then launched into Billy from his debut album, Back To Bedlam, with keyboard player Richard Conwell driving the tune home with a stirring organ solo. Guitarist Ben Castle got his opportunity to shine during Wiseman, which produced a goose bump moment when the audience joined in at the chorus, and for Carry You Home, the refrain was sung by the fans alone.
Bringing out his ukulele for Satellites, he then announced that he had done enough ‘happy songs’, and returned to his piano for ‘his next miserable song’; Miss America, a patently sincere statement of grief dedicated to Whitney Houston. Whilst Blunt is good at sad songs, the second half was a different show altogether. He had more banter with the audience; apologising to the loads of boyfriends who had been dragged along to the show by saying “sorry mates”.
He unstiffened his upper lip and turned the music expansively stompy. For the rest of the show he hit all the right notes, both literally and figuratively, as he hopped around the stage with a smile on his face, keeping the flow going by interspersing his upbeat songs amongst the slower, more introspective ones.
Once again on the piano to deliver Sun On Sunday, he was back on the ukulele for Postcards. An astonishingly powerful version of his self-confessed ‘miserable song’ Goodbye My Lover, proved that he did not need a backing band, as he presented this one all alone on the piano whilst singing flawlessly through the brittle words.
His big hit, You’re Beautiful, came towards the end of his set which was uplifting live, and with the stage showered by orange UFO lights, So Long Jimmy brought proceedings to an end. For the encore there was the current hit Bonfire Heart, followed by Stay The Night before saying goodbye with 1973.
There is no doubt that James Blunt is a good live act. His wit and charm rises firmly up above any past cheesiness, and his sings are so much livelier than on his records. When an artist delivers a great set of songs for a full couple of hours, the time will fly by, and tonight at the Arena, this is what happened.
James Blunt may still be a bit of a posho, but he is very hard to dislike.