Gig Review by Olivia Faye Wood with Photography by Megan Levers

James Bay

I won’t deny, I was a bit of a sceptic of James Bay before attending his gig at The Leadmill, Sheffield on Thursday night. Sure, I knew his hit ‘Hold Back The River’, but it was hard not to, considering its popularity on the radio, reaching number two in the UK, with over sixty-four million listens on Spotify (a large percentage of which had taken place in my flat, by my infatuated friends).

James Bay

After reading a rather scathing review, I wondered whether he was just another by-product of the current ‘hipster/indie’ phase. Using the fashions of the time to his advantage, i.e. long hair, hat (which it’s rumoured he never removes), not forgetting those anxious yet soulful eyes and chiselled cheekbones. However, after entering the sold out venue, unsure of how another human body could fit the small but prestigious Leadmill, I reconsidered.

James Bay

Managing to squeeze (near-ish) to the front, having waded through the mass of 20-something couples, I embraced the ‘Chaos And The Calm’. The buzz of anticipation was tangible, erupting as he stepped onto the stage, with a couple of women around me even being reduced to tears. My scepticism was overturned by my appreciation for his t-shirt, which read: “This is what a feminist looks like”, moving into wonder when he began to sing. His voice was stronger than I expected as he ticked off multiple songs from his album, flowing with an ease that only an excellent musician can accomplish.

James Bay

But it was his cover of Alicia Keys’ ‘If I Ain’t Got You’ that finally swayed me, and I soon found myself besotted. I could see how he had made it to the big time at the young age of twenty-four, with a Critics Choice Award and a number 1 UK album under his hat. James Bay possesses a naturally emotional, raw singing voice and stage presence, and boy can he hold his own with a multitude of guitars.

James Bay

James Bay

His interaction with the crowd and gratuity towards fans was endearing, as were his coy grins directed toward the gaggle of girls who felt it necessary to declare their love. The audience seemed to be held in a state of enchantment, with arrays of couples singing along to the lyrics, swaying in utter surrender. So I’d suggest ‘If You Ever Want To Be In Love’ with your partner, or James Bay for that matter, go to one of his gigs.

James Bay

I’ve decided to ‘Let It Go’ and declare myself a James Bay fan.

James Bay

James Bay

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