James Blake Brings 'Retrograde' (and a Befuddling Synth) to 'Letterman'

'Late Show' host gets hung up on Moog, ignores Blake

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Chris Martins WRITTEN BY
Chris Martins

James Blake and his boys hit the Late Show With David Letterman last night to perform "Retrograde" and happily baffled the beloved host with their array of uncommon instruments. "Their stuff didn't arrive from England so we put together whatever we had backstage," he quips before the unlikely power trio launches into Overgrown's most starkly stirring track. It's a pitch-perfect rendition of the soulful track even if the scenery doesn't exactly set the mood (black velvet bedding seems more appropriate), finding Blake looping his ever-pained coo into a chorus of sexy woe. But once it's all said and done, Letterman isn't interested in the man who wrote the song so much as the guy playing the Moog Taurus 3 analog synthesizer. Paul Shaffer comes through with the explanation: "It's bass pedals really, but he plays it with his hands ... It's like these guys and Rush and that's about it as far as those things."

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