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27th April 2015

Live: James Bay

The combination of venue with artist could not have been more perfect

11th April

Albert Hall


If you haven’t heard of James Bay you must have been hiding in a cave for the last few months. Since winning the Critics’ Choice Awards at this year’s Brits, this singer-songwriter has rapidly risen to success.

On the back of three EP’s and within days of the release of his debut album Chaos and the Calm, he took to Manchester’s Albert Hall in front of an eager crowd.

The combination of venue with artist could not have been more perfect; the Albert Hall was simply a treat. Like a hipster’s take on Shakespeare’s Globe, the roundness of the room and dimmed lighting made the whole thing more intimate; that “lived in”, homely feel that is missing from so many more corporate venues, really suited Bay’s sound.

Kicking off with the up-beat ‘Collide’, then moving through ‘Craving’ and a personal favourite ‘When We Were on Fire’, the already sun-soaked and enthused crowd were officially revved up. These songs also showed that Bay is not simply another man with an acoustic guitar singing about his wee little heart breaking.

‘If You Ever Wanna Be In Love’ was the first song that really heard the biggest sing along. It is one of the more, let’s say, commercially viable tracks on his album. It was the popular ‘Let it Go’ though that really captured everyone gathered. It was the first moment that things reached that more emotional level; even the man who had had one too many and was essentially football chanting his way through every single song toned it down for this one.

That’s the great thing about James Bay’s music. Every song is incredibly detailed, coming from a very pure place, and yet all are free enough of ambiguity that most people can relate. He manages to create that instantly catchy hook which gives his music a familiarity that many other musicians never capture.

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