The 15-month enforced leave of absence was gloriously smashed when James Blunt ignited the Royal Albert Hall with a pulsating plasma that connected everyone inside of this most intimate of arenas.
Fusing the new with some of the old, the self-effacing rock legend drank herbal tea, lamented the catching of COVID-19 and passing it on to fellow band members, and even had time to reflect on the size of his own member. The guy was at his dynamite best! OK, from a personal point of view he let me down by not playing Bartender, always a chance for me to reminisce about my own attempts to rescue romance with the help of alcohol, but my new earworm made up for that.
‘I told you’, with the words appearing on three fuck-off screens above the stage connected me instantly to my daughter Lucy, a mere 10,553 miles away in Sydney. And that is what James does best – connect us all while simultaneously managing to create an extraordinary intimacy.
But this wasn’t the full picture, as before he was greeted by a rapturous audience I experienced the pure and wholly unexpected joy of Alfie Sheard, who took to the stage and captured the magnificence that is The Royal Albert Hall. Having only had the nod to support James a matter of days earlier, the young lad from Doncaster, just north of my hometown and centre of the universe, Nottingham, the affinity was immediate. His cover of Joan Armatrading’s ‘Fast car’ was delicious, although his own writing moved an old guy to tears. A ballad to his girlfriend and a poignant tribute to his younger brother joining the army connected me to a personal narrative when, many years ago in my policing days, I decided to caution a 17-year-old lad, rather than charge him, thus allowing him to realise his dream of going to The Royal Military Academy Sandhurst. This honourable man had been daft and drove his isolated girlfriend home at Christmas. In defiance of the juvenile board, I gave him a second chance. To this day I still fret over what peril I may have inadvertently subjected him to.
James you were, as usual, a monster of rock, but to be blunt, Alfie you’re beautiful.
© Ian Kirke 2021