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Blake – Mandarin Oriental live review

A classy performance from Blake, featuring Camilla Kerslake.

It was nearly exactly two years ago that we saw Blake performing at the beautiful Mandarin Oriental, in London’s Knightsbridge. The huge difference then, was of course that they were a four-piece, but now they are a three-piece band, due to the departure of Jules Knight. We wondered how this would work out, as we had been used to seeing them as a four piece for so long and wondered how it would affect the dynamic of their harmonies and how they looked together. We’re glad to say that they have lost none of their sparkle. Not only that, but Humphrey also had a big announcement to make, as he declared that he was no longer a single man, following his recent marriage and jokingly apologised to the ladies that he was no longer on the market! Blake are also celebrating being in the music business for eight years, which saw a few raised glasses.

The first song in their set, of which was a taster showcase for their new album was a cover of Elvis’ Love Me Tender, which Blake sang with a lot of meaning. They also managed to get a few of Elvis’ mannerisms in the song, well, Humphrey certainly did – whether this was intentional or not, we’re not sure, but it worked. Seeing the guys together again makes us feel a bit warm inside, as if they are straight out of a British rom-com, with their old-fashioned charm, perfect English accents and smart suits. With the beautiful surroundings, all that was missing was a burning log fire and warm, woolly jumpers and mug of hot chocolate! They bring a slightly cheesy, but feel good vibe along with them wherever they go.

Next up in their set was Dream a Little Dream, on which Humphrey played the Ukulele, with many jokes from Ollie about his Ukulele playing – or ‘Humphrey’s shrunk guitar’ as he liked to put it, which had everyone in the room laughing. Stephen also put in his fair share of funny one liners, jokingly referring to the time that they performed for President Obama, but at the time they were busking outside and he was actually inside the White House! We loved the humour with filtered throughout their set, it really added to their performance, showing that they can entertain, as well as sing so well. Their harmonies sounded great and they have lost none of their power as a three-piece, if anything, they also appeared to be closer, as if their bond has grown even further, which was great to see. This was followed by a cover of Sting’s Fields of Gold, which sounded very different sung in an operatic/classical way and we really enjoyed it. They also pointed out that Eva Cassidy of course also did a beautiful version of the song and given that Fields of Gold is such a classic song, they have both managed to make it sound fresh.

The final song of their brief set was a duet on You Raise Me Up, with the talented Camilla Kerslake. There was a lot of passion in this final song, which seemed to dominate and power through the small size of the room, which was something special to see. Camilla looked stunning and gave the song her all, with plenty of overwhelming passion and combined, it was beautiful and elegant performance. When we last saw them performing together, it was at the Hippodrome, where a choir of ladies who had experienced breast cancer performed with them. They also announced that Camilla’s dear mother has now overcome breast cancer and been given the all clear, which we were thrilled to hear. After being given a taster, we’re really looking forward to listening to the remainder of their new album and hearing those tight harmonies blending together so well, yet again.

Photograph credit Nils Jorgensen

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