Festival Theatre, Edinburgh
Star rating: * * *
Certainly if the rapt crowd packed into the Festival Theatre was anything to go by, stepping back would have been a bad move, because there’s plenty of life left in peddling contemporary soft rock and plaintive neo-folk ballads yet.
In keeping with the theme of the new record, Blunt and his band were dressed in Nasa-style astronaut uniforms, although its effect on their chiselled leader was to leave him carrying the air of Maverick from Top Gun, brown leather jacket not included. With laser lights and a dazzling floor-to-ceiling screen behind them, it was a strangely all-action show, even when Blunt’s position behind the mic was static. He asked the audience to effect their own mobile phone lightshow during Same Mistake and dived into the audience for a walkabout during So Long, Jimmy, coming back with a commandeered cowboy hat on his head.
Yet Blunt is a canny enough operator to understand that he’s better off not betraying his audience’s expectations of him, and the earnest, saccharine ballads which made his name were in heavy supply, from Goodbye My Lover to the trademark You’re Beautiful and recent single Bonfire Heart. The cheery middle-of-the-road pop of set-closer 1973 helped accentuate this musical conservatism with its seemingly radical difference, flagging up the fact that this was a crowd-pleasing show for an audience who demand familiarity above all.
Seen on 14.04.14