James Blood: Apocalypse Soon

Note: This review is from 2007

Review by Steve Bennett

Sometimes venues really don’t help performers. Finding James Blood’s gig was nothing short of a mission, hidden as it was in a tiny, unmarked cellar at Linsay’s, a pub already off the beaten track.I eventually got there, but others clearly fell by the wayside - a great shame because Blood isn’t bad at all.

Despite getting off to a shaky start, not helped by the intermittent arrival of confused, flustered gig-goers, Blood soon got into his stride. With a quietly-spoken awkwardness, he explained the show’s premise – that the world was going to end directly after the gig.

Based on this assumption, he solemnly showed how to recognise the apocalypse and outlined what he would like to achieve in the hour before his death. These ambitions ranged from stealing a nice car to making a citizen’s arrest and were helpfully illustrated, Dave Gorman-style, with photographs and diagrams displayed on a laptop.

It’s a strong idea and the whimsical melancholy suited his performance style, apparently the result of nerves rather than anything calculated.

But when a show relies this heavily on props, the props need to be fit for purpose and a small laptop on a chair isn’t an effective way of displaying things to an audience, even in a small venue.

Blood’s amusingly deadpan spiel meant it didn’t detract too catastrophically from the show, but a projector would have been an easy addition that made a lot of difference to the professionalism.

The material itself was somewhat disjointed, but original and carefully considered, with some real gems, such as his 16-year-old diary with its account of his gangster ambitions and a painfully terrible rap. With a bit of polishing, it would easily make a more than passable show.

Blood’s delivery was more of a problem; he looked uncomfortable and nervous.This could be turned to work to his advantage, but avoiding eye contact is never good.

However, Blood has definite potential and if anyone manages to find the show in the first place, they shouldn’t be disappointed.

Reviewed by: Nione Meakin

Review date: 1 Jan 2007
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett

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