Wow – did we need that. Tonight (March 23), James Blake held a very special concert on Instagram Live. The impromptu show was announced by the musician today on his Twitter: “Ok looks like we’re in this for the long haul so I’m jumping in... gotta play for you guys somehow,” he wrote.
The short but sweet set took place in Blake’s living room – his partner Jameela Jamil was present and filmed him from behind. To his own camera, Blake sang and played piano for the thousands that tuned in. The set included “Life Round Here” from his 2013 album Overgrown and fan-favourite “Retrograde”, as well as a litany of covers: Frank Ocean’s “Godspeed”, Billie Eilish’s “when the party’s over”, Joni Mitchell’s “A Case Of You”, Bill Withers’ “Hope That She’ll Be Happier”, and Radiohead’s “No Surprises”.
Fans were, of course, floored by the performance, with many responding in the IG comments to say they were emotional, and given a sense of solace by the English artist, given the ongoing self-isolation and social distancing many are doing amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Musicians, producers, and other cultural figures alike have been making use of their social media to satiate fans in isolation and lockdown. Charli XCX has been involved in a full week of programming for fans – writing about her time in quarantine for Dazed here – with a personal training session with Diplo, an intimate Q+A with Christine and the Queens, a portrait session with Clairo, and more. LA rapper D-Nice held Club Quarantine on his Instagram, which saw Rihanna, Missy Elliott, Oprah Winfrey, Bernie Sanders, Kelly Rowland, Usher, and more tune in. Britney Spears also announced on her IG that she was picking fans out “to help out during this difficult time”.
Last week, the Assume Form musician announced the cancellation of his European tour. “It’s been a horrible decision to make, but the safety of the fans and my band and crew is always the top priority. Sending everyone all the love. Please stay safe out there,” he tweeted.