A safe bet: a situation to which there are little-to-no risks attached. One knows what to expect when approaching this situation. James Blunt can be described as a safe bet. On Saturday night, James Blunt treated fans in Melbourne to his “Some Kind Of Trouble” tour. Shortly after 9pm, the houselights in The Plenary Hall at The Melbourne Convention Centre dimmed and Blunt’s band took to the stage member by member.

As each of the ensemble arrived, they joined into an extended intro of ‘So Far Gone’, the second single off of Blunt’s latest record. As his adoring fans anxiously awaited to see the man himself, Blunt emerged from the back of the hall. Making his way down the aisle, Blunt handed out high fives and handshakes before joining his band of merry men on the stage. Upon appearing in front of his audience he threw his hands up into the air signalling his arrival.

The Plenary Room was an interesting choice for a concert. As Blunt himself noted, it’s like “performing in a cinema”. A very orange and green cinema. “To make it more like a concert, you can stand up,” he said. “I know you’ve forked out a lot of cash for a comfy chair so I’ll make you a deal. For the slower songs you can sit but for the faster ones you’ve gotta stand. You’re going to have to work out which is which,” Blunt continued, “I can’t gesture. Both my hands are busy. The first person to stand up usually feels like an idiot. I’m the idiot. I’m already standing up.”

Blunt likes to talk. He engages his audience. In a sense it feels as if he’s talking directly to you. The crowd held onto his every word. Many women would drop their panties at the simple utterance of “you’re beautiful”, but the ex-army Captain actually convinced a male heckler to remove all his clothes. As the man stood there in his tighty-whities, Blunt joked, “in the UK we call those ‘Parrot Smugglers’, but I can see why here they call them ‘budgie smugglers’”.

The UK-born, Ibiza-dwelling singer-songwriter played a good mix of songs from his three albums. Seven of the songs from his most recent album were peppered throughout the twenty-song setlist. He also included fan favourites such as ‘You’re Beautiful’, ‘1973’, ‘Goodbye My Lover’, ‘Wisemen’ and all the other songs you’d expect to hear at a James Blunt gig.

The lighting and onset design was beautiful and the performance was flawless. The songs were delivered verbatim to their recorded counterparts. Fans received exactly what they were expecting. The performance inside was exactly as it looked on the box. Almost. It’s a fair bet that most fans weren’t expecting a strip show too.

–        Brett Schewitz