Photos (c) Adam Lyduch
From a single spotlight in centre stage, Bay laid his heart on the line to his adoring fans.
James Bay has had an incredible 2015 so far, the charismatic star’s debut single ‘Hold Back The River’ had the world hooked with its thrilling riffs and anthemic building chorus, making Bay’s first album, ‘Chaos and the Calm’, one of the most highly anticipated releases of 2015. A Critic’s Choice Award, number one album and gold record status later and the very humble Hitchin lad takes to the stage to round off his sold-out UK tour at a packed-to-the-rafters o2 Academy – with his hat still in place.
There’s always a great buzz when the o2 is at full capacity, making this the perfect venue for the final night of a very successful tour for the soulful singer/songwriter. Monday night was certainly no different, and kicking off proceedings were the wondrously enchanting Seafret, a crooning duo who had the crowd hypnotised with the emotive ‘Oceans’ and new hit ‘Atlantis’ and promising to be the next young things to keep an ear out for.
When the main man himself came bounding out excitedly to centre stage, he wasted no time in breaking out into the edgy ‘Collide’, a high-octane rock number to get the crowd moving from the word go. Seemingly a man of few words, Bay powered through the upbeat first few tracks; ‘Craving’, ‘When We Were On Fire’ and ‘If You Ever Want To Be In Love’, pausing only to switch between guitars and take a breather from shaking his snake hips energetically round the stage (much to the pleasure of some ladies in the room).
It was when Bay slowed down the pace that he really captured the crowd’s attention. An enthralled hush fell over the room from the beginning of ‘Need The Sun To Break’ that lingered through the poignant ‘Running’ and finally erupted as soon as the opening chords of new single ‘Let It Go’ rang out. From a single spotlight in centre stage, Bay laid his heart on the line to his adoring fans with his simple, stripped-back story of a relationship breaking down. In a breathy falsetto, made even more moving by the crowd swaying before him, it really is Bay’s vulnerability and ability to bare his soul through his songwriting that has made him such a massive star.
Next came the equally as heart-wrenching ‘Move Together’ and ‘Scars’, his hardest song to write to date, before he announced that now all the slow ones were out of the way, we could really start the party. And if here is a man that really has mastered the art of the slow-burner, then he can do party-starters equally as well. With the head-bopping, tambourine-shaking ‘Best Fake Smile’ and the fast-paced, gospel feeling ‘Get Out While You Can’, the night reached its climax with a truckload of killer hooks.
But if the crowd took anything away from Monday night, it was the encore. After an emotional thank you to the fans for fuelling his whirlwind journey to the top, James Bay gave back through the only medium he knows how, by treating the masses to a fantastic cover of Alicia Keys’ ‘If I Ain’t Got You’, which says exactly what he needed to say. One thing was certain; every one left the venue that night knowing that James Bay’s star will definitely be rising for some time yet.
Listen to new single ‘Let It Go’ here: