Gig Review and Photography by Kris Askey

James Bay

Just days after topping the iTunes Chart with his new E.P. ‘Hold Back The River’James Bay headed to the O2 Academy 2 in Birmingham. Bay’s songs and guitar playing would be presented to a sold out venue tonight, but first it was time for Port Isla to take to the stage. With their set ranging from melodic anthems to soft indie ballads, the four piece band from Norwich more than paved the way for James Bay to grace to the stage.

Port Isla

Port Isla

Upon taking to the stage, James and his ever-so-cool hat greeted the screaming crowd in a humbling manner before picking up his guitar.  On the same day as being picked as one of MTV’s Brand New Artists, James opened his set with ‘Craving’ and made some signals to adjust his levels, making sure the sound was perfect. Almost instantly you knew he was ready to give the crowd a performance worthy of all the publicity that had surrounded him in the run up to releasing his latest E.P.

James Bay

James Bay

James Bay followed his introduction with 4 offerings from his previous releases including ‘When We Were On Fire’ and the fan favourite of ‘Let It Go’ which turned the crowds accompanying vocals up to 11. This was a perfect chance for Mr. Bay and his cool hat to introduce a song called ‘Scars’, which he claimed took him “2 whole years to write” and helped his songwriting really come to life. Fresh off the new release, ‘Sparks’ followed, with it’s punchy western riffs and catchy chorus. I am sure I am not alone in considering this track as one of, if not the strongest offering off ‘Hold Back The River’.

James Bay

Bringing it back a little, we were treated to a great performance of ‘Move Together’, the 1st track that will charm your ears upon listening to his debut release of ‘The Dark Of The Morning’. Almost as if he decided to carry on with early classics, James broke into ‘Need The Sun To Break’. This gave the room a real-life taster of what it’s like to listen to a James Bay album, as these last two tracks perfectly follow each other on the record.

James Bay

Just before the Encore approached we were treated to a glimpse of James Bay’s bluesy-rock side of songwriting, with ‘Best Fake Smile’. Just as anyone would begin to think he didn’t have a song like this in the bag, he pulled it straight out and wore it on his sleeve. If there was a moment in the night where the crowd were singing and uncontrollable tapping their feet then this was it. The ideal song in his arsenal to leave people begging for more at the encore.

James Bay

Only a few moments followed until James was back out, this time on his own. Almost as if he couldn’t wait to share another intimate moment with the crowd. The young singer-songwriter from Hitchin swooned the room with ‘Clocks Go Forward’. Four minutes of fluent, intricate guitar playing marked the introduction and performance of ‘Hold Back The River’. The title track from his new E.P. and also the song that Zane Lowe introduced as his ‘Hottest Record’ in early October, was the perfect ending to a fantastic gig. Undoubtably a great live performance from James Bay, one of many I’m sure, which can only bring him closer to his next milestone, in what looks to be a successful career as a young singer songwriter.

James Bay

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