What’s Left: 128 Days. 47 Bands
Band #53: Robert Sarazin Blake
When/Where: April 20th, Lizard Lounge, Cambridge, MA
Expectations: I’ve seen Robert Sarazin Blake once before when he opened for The Powder Kegs (who also play as his East Coast backing band) a few months back. He was one of those openers that caught the crowd’s attention with his sound that could be described as some strange hybrid of Jonathan Richman, Lou Reed, and Bill Callahan. But of course he has his own stories to tell. Sounds good, right? I even walked away the last time with his album, The Air Your Lungs Forced Out. So needless to say the expectations were high.
Concert: Blake played largely from his two new albums both released this year, Put it All Down in a Letter and The Belfast Sessions. Opening with “Hanging On”, as he told the crowd it’s a song about that time after a break-up when you think you should get back together, illiciting laughs before he even played a note.
The Lizard Lounge is not the easiest of places to get full attention from the audience and the stage is more a carpeted rectangle of space awkwardly flanked by tables and chairs on three sides than it is a stage. However, Blake being a master of stage presence and completely at ease, was capable of bringing the crowd to a complete silence more than a few times. During many of his songs there is a lull as he breaks from singing to more of a spoken word stream of conciousness and the crowd dutifully listened to every word. Especially as he adlibed and threw in Cambridge references, spoke of dancing with an Emerson student, and the upcoming performance from Lake Street Drive during his song “I Didn’t Call You from Philadelphia”. That adlibing is something I remembered from the last performance I saw and Blake’s ability to make a story out of a moment, a moment every audience member is a part of no less, is the one of the best forms of concert entertainment I’ve ever experienced.
The interludes of fiddle and piano solos as well as guitar solos from the talented Jefferson Hamer upped the entertainment factor as well. A large reason I decided to go was because two songs have been rattling around my brain from the last time I saw him and I had to hear them again. I did get to hear the beautiful song “Farm in New Hampshire” and the song that I was most looking forward to “We Can Roll Down Tonite/Dublin to Belfast”. The latter is actually a combination of two songs, one being his friend’s song and the rest being some accumulation of thoughts and words he had jotted down. I still don’t think I’ve ever heard anything like that.
Concert Afterglow: I love the emotions and responses that Robert Sarazin Blake can draw out of his audience whether he is ad-libbing or reciting a monologue, or singing. He puts on a “show” in every sense of the word. He also happens to be a mighty fine dancer.
Recommendation: I happen to be seeing him again tonight because I enjoy his music and his performance so much. I can’t imagine many reasons why I would ever miss one of his shows. He travels constantly so chances are you might just be able to catch one of his many concerts, I highly suggest you do.