Gig Review by Fran Prince with Photography by Sophie Jones

James Bay

Sold out; James Bay has gained his fans in their thousands with a record year introducing his album Chaos and the Calm as well as winning this year’s Critics Choice Award at the Brits. Hitchin’s very own has hit us by storm, with a multitude of tracks and representing the era of acoustic rock, competing (never mind befriending) the likes of Sheeran and Ezra.

James Bay

Submitting to the industries need for a primary image, he dons his predictable iconic hat, and lengthy locks, yet surprisingly the adolescent cheek-boned charmer didn’t begin with his expected acoustic soft-vocaled self, and threw us into a mass of electrified strobing alongside penetrating guitar riffs.

James Bay

Fighting to find a nook to even get a glimpse of Bay proved difficult, and as bodies’ crammed into Birmingham’s O2 Academy, the audience became metal to a magnet, locked together.

James Bay

His hurricane of tracks spun the audience into an array of emotional acoustic with a soulful Need the Sun to Break, and Scars, to a rock rendition of Craving, all to which the audience resonated with a thunder of singing. Bay regularly broke the tracks off for the bands silence so that he might embrace his success listening himself to the echoic crowds roaring through the venue with his lyrics.

James Bay

Appealing to a huge demographic, this universal solo artist is striving forward with force, demonstrating his variety in genre’s, from hard-hitting rock, to serene ballad sounds.

Reminding me of Ben Howard’s haunting and focal instrumentals to his recent tour, Bay equally addresses his talents with an extended melancholy guitar-come-piano introduction to Let It Go, which gets categorical approval from the audience.

James Bay

Ripping up the stage with a refined blues cover of Alicia Keys, If I Ain’t Got You, and fame making Hold Back the River, he ends his set with a classic case of fans “bay”ing for more.

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