Here's a fun activity: mention James Blunt in front of certain friends or, even better, random people at a party or at work. Maybe suggest that he's pretty good.
I guarantee you will be met by at least one nuclear eye-roll and be assaulted by an exasperated lecture about why he's indeed “not good”, and why their (the lecturer’s) musical tastes are way superior and cooler than yours. Such fun.
Well, Blunt's show on Saturday at Bimbadgen was pretty good. Great even.
The posh-talking kid from England went well. Mainly because of his commanding showmanship.
If you doubt how sharp this guy is, check out his work on Twitter. Have a go at him, if you dare. He will own you.
He owned the Bimbadgen stage on Saturday from the moment he and his band opened proceedings with Heart to Heart, followed by Blunt's beautifully enunciated greeting: “How the hell are you Hunter Valley?”
The Hunter crowd – which was a surprising mix of all ages from merch-wearing Millennials and iGens to GenXers and Baby Boomers) – were crazy-happy to be in Blunt's circus for the night. Like a over-caffeinated ringmaster, he went through his long hit list, delivering it with passion, confidence and fun.
His voice was unfailingly strong as he switched from his high-on-life pop hits, to his tear-jerkers and reached every lofty note in High.
You’re Beautiful is one of “those songs” that has – for better or worse – taken on a life of its own. It was unleashed mid-set, and Blunt (probably fed up with it himself) turned it into a communal karaoke. It was the only way really to shuffle off the elephant in the room. The crowd had a collective warble and got it off their chests. It felt better. Like a Bex and a lie down.
That sorted, it was chocks away again with his pop fest. A stand-out was Goodbye My Lover. It had blokes, women and the kids singing into their chardies, beers and Diet Pepsis. It also looked at one point as if our James was going to shed a few tears himself. Bless.
Things turned all celestial when mobile-phone torches were 'ignited' for Same Mistake. The modern-day 'lighter held aloft' always goes down a treat. Lovely.
The main set was wrapped up with the dancey-pants OK, before the encore of Stay the Night, 1973 (which was fab) and Bonfire Heart (extra fun).
So, yes, we saw Blunt’s face in a crowded place and, thankfully, he's still easy on the eye – in a cheeky monkey kind if way. We also heard his voice. It was joyful, whimsical, heart-breaking, defiant and, above all, immensely engaging.
Cheers, James. Stay sharp.