From his 2005 debut “Back to Bedlam” — with its worldwide smash single “You’re Beautiful” — U.K. tunesmith James Blunt has made a living singing gorgeous, gut-wrenching ballads.
Before that, he was a captain in the British cavalry, who may have literally avoided starting World War III when he refused an order to fire on Russian troops at Kosovo’s Pristina airfield in 1999.
The five-time Grammy nominee’s new third set, “Some Kind of Trouble,” follows similarly serious suit, with touching London-tracked paeans like “Stay the Night” and “I’ll Be Your Man.”
Outside of the recording studio, however, Blunt — who plays The City on Thursday — boasts the rapid-fire delivery of a classic Catskills comedian.
After seeing the winning contestant on “China’s Got Talent,” an armless keyboardist who played “You’re Beautiful” with his feet, he deadpans, “I told my piano player that he’s fired. I think I’ve found a good replacement.”
More gags ensue, concerning his appearance on “Sesame Street” (“A career highlight!”); his popularity in Thai-Malay karaoke bars (“I’d be bored listening to music in a different language, myself”) and whether he’s crooning to himself or an unspecified girl on most of “Trouble” (“Well, I am pretty effeminate!”).
When he jokingly told an Italian reporter that he’d be playing the church organ at the royal wedding, it became breaking news.
Blunt has heard “Weird Al” Yankovic’s officially unreleased “Beautiful” spoof, “You’re Pitiful,” but he says it’s not his favorite parody of the song.
“There were better ones, and my favorite is by an Australian guy called Tom Gleeson. In the video, he’s playing my song while pretending to be the boyfriend of the girl on the subway, and he answers back to every one of my lines. It’s genius!”
He’s not kidding when he says that he’s a “totally happy raver” who loves clubbing so much on his home island of Ibiza that he constructed an actual discotheque in his hillside garden. “It’s called ‘Blunty’s Nightclub — Where Everybody’s Beautiful,’ which is actually on a big neon sign that my band gave me, and I’ve even got a vodka sponsorship,” he says of the space, which holds a dozen folks comfortably. “I have a mannequin named Nadia who watches the door with a clipboard, and my name is always first on her list.”
Reluctantly, the intensely private star recently started Tweeting. “But my ego, I hope, is not big enough to want to tell strangers exactly what I had for breakfast,” he says. “But I’m learning how to post. And now I’m just trying to make people laugh.”
IF YOU GO
Where: The Warfield, 982 Market St., S.F.
When: 8 p.m. Thursday
Tickets: $40 to $50
Contact: (800) 745-3000, www.ticketmaster.com