I had the pleasure of treating myself to a short three-day trip to New York City to see James Bay perform at the legendary Bowery Ballroom last night. It has definitely been a while since I’ve been this excited to see a live performance. Bay has been rapidly gaining appreciation from fans and fellow artists around the globe and word on the street is he gives a hell of a live show. It is my pleasure to personally confirm that rumour.
Following a short set by folk-country fusion artist Lucy Silvas, James took the stage alongside his three other band members and closest friends to open things up with unreleased song “Collide”, off his upcoming debut album Chaos and the Calm dropping on March 23. Kicking things off with one of his more up-beat tunes, he kept things going with two more songs before taking a moment to chat with the crowd a little. Later on, the band took a break leaving James under a single spotlight to perform ballads “Let It Go” and “Scars”, accompanied by the touching backstory of how it took two long years and the return of a very special lady-friend to finally complete the song. The band returned to the stage and the show picked back up to later include a very warm-welcomed cover of Alicia Keys’ “If I Ain’t Got You”, dedicated by James to all the fans in the audience. As expected, things came to a close with single and hit “Hold Back The River”, ending the night on a high note and leaving the crowd buzzing.
If there’s one thing to say about this show it’s that James Bay sings every song from the heart. It’s a magical thing to see an artist be so invested in the music and it makes for a particularly powerful experience. Furthermore, James took the time to show off his impressive guitar skills with impromptu guitar riffs and solos that sent chills down your spine. Despite the fact the New York crowd has a lot to learn from the fans back home and that I found the setlist to be much too short, I still thoroughly enjoyed myself and am now genuinely thrilled to see him in Montreal next month. If you’re in any way doubtful about the hype surrounding this up-and-coming artist, seeing him perform live will definitely fix that. Make sure to get your hands on his debut album next week and if you have a chance to catch him in a city near you definitely do that too (tickets are super cheap).