Review + Photography by Marianne Brits-Strodl

As one of my favourite solo artists and a big fan his debut album, ‘Chaos & the Calm’ PLUS having waited over three years for a new release and a tour, I was elated (and apprehensive) about covering the James Bay Roundhouse gig on Tuesday. James released this very highly anticipated new album, ‘Electric Light’ on Friday, 18 May and is currently on tour supporting it.

James Bay live at Roundhouse, London 29 May 2018

Since his first single ‘Hold Back the River’ back in 2014, James Bay has had huge success internationally. Although it’s no secret that he has a massive female following, this was evident with the line of mostly women in their early twenties stretching around the block when I arrived.

James Bay live at Roundhouse, London 29 May 2018

James Bay live at Roundhouse, London 29 May 2018

Lily Moore kick-started the night as the Roundhouse steadily started filling up till 21:15 when the lights dimmed, and a video was projected of a scene which I assume has something to do with his first song. James Bay came on stage in a tight black top and shiny silver pants and kicked the night off with ‘Wasted on Each Other’ from his new album. Without saying a word, he went straight into guitar-heavy ‘Pink Lemonade’, one of the first singles off Electric Light and the guitar-heavy track this was well received.

It was only when after his third song ‘Craving’, from his debut album started, that the crowd truly came alive. He then greeted the crowd and told them he’s going to “play some new songs…” and the crowd cheered. “And some old songs too”, which was met with a much louder cheer.

James Bay live at Roundhouse, London 29 May 2018

James Bay live at Roundhouse, London 29 May 2018

‘If You Ever Want to Be in Love’ had the audience sing along to every word. Throughout the night there was a clear differentiation between old material and new on how the crowd responded.

James played for about 90 minutes and his encore was two songs – a cover of Bonnie Tyler’s ‘The Best’ and fan favourite ‘Need the Sun to Break’.

James Bay live at Roundhouse, London 29 May 2018

James Bay live at Roundhouse, London 29 May 2018

Bay is undoubtedly a confident performer, with a boundless voice and was backed up by a strong band. This was a very well-rehearsed performance.

Call it a “reinvention”? Call it an “evolution”? Whatever you call it, James Bay has changed. From his music direction, down to the shorter hair and more commercial fashion style. He is no longer the “intimate acoustic guitar guy” I knew and love, however, his new direction will appeal to the younger masses.

James Bay live at Roundhouse, London 29 May 2018

James Bay live at Roundhouse, London 29 May 2018

Setlist: Wasted on Each Other / Pink Lemonade / Craving / Wanderlust / If You Ever Want to Be in Love / When We Were on Fire / Wild Love / Sugar Drunk High / Us / Slide / Let It Go / Just for Tonight / Best Fake Smile / Hold Back the River Encore: The Best (Bonnie Tyler cover) / Need The Sun to Break

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