British singer-songwriter James Blunt.

British singer-songwriter James Blunt. Photo: Supplied

Reviewer rating:

Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars

James Blunt

State Theatre, May 30 (early show)

Reviewed by George Palathingal

The cool kids don’t like British troubadour James Blunt. This isn’t really news to anyone, least of all the singer-songwriter himself, but when it comes to his music they do have a case.

Blunt makes the kind of soft, formulaic guitar-pop that’s polished almost to the point of soullessness. For every person who thinks he sings like an angel, there is another who finds his voice grating. No one in their right mind would describe what he does as groundbreaking.

Yet not only does Blunt have a devoted, largely female fan base who, rightly, couldn’t care less what the cool kids think, he is an unarguably solid performer.

He seduces with every tune a fan might want him to play, be that the easy, breezy likes of 1973 or folky ballads such as Wisemen and the inescapable You’re Beautiful, and he is strongly backed by an anonymous four-piece band. He confidently switches between acoustic guitar, piano and ukulele and hits every vocal note he aims for.

Blunt is charming and funny between songs, joking about everything from his diminutive size and (he insists unrelated) sexual prowess to the slightly ludicrous excess of astronaut imagery on the stage due to the fact he called his current, fourth album Moon Landing.

You can’t fault his work ethic, either. Even though he acknowledges he only has a couple of upbeat songs in his repertoire (basically the jaunty Satellites and the jigging Stay the Night) and that the seats do look comfortable, he continually engages the audience and does his best to get them on their feet. Little more than an hour after putting plenty into this show, Blunt plays a second, full gig starting at midnight.

At this point you might expect a caveat or a disclaimer or some cruel but witty put-down but the truth of the matter is Blunt doesn’t deserve one. The fact that I don’t like his voice or music should not take away from his technical capabilities as a singer and performer, nor from the differing opinion of his fans.

James Blunt plays his final Sydney show at the State Theatre tonight (Saturday).