Arriving 4 hours early for Mr Bay’s gig we searched Hoxton for an appealing restaurant and quite frankly I thought I’d died and gone to hipster heaven. We opted for an American diner to kick-start the night, which complemented James Bay’s Tennessee vibes. We threw ourselves into the venue, which was also laden with edgy youths, to witness a crowd building with anticipation. Curious strangers muttered whispers “apparently it’s sold out, wish I’d got tickets now…” as they pleaded for extra spaces.
Feeling rather smug, my food baby and I took our place front row. The support act, Christof from Holland, lulled us into a dream world and I found myself blushing when he told us “don’t worry I’ve only got two more songs” which was followed by a unanimous “awww” from the audience.
We were in a positively sleepy abyss when abruptly woken with screams, announcing the arrival of James. He youthfully sprang onto the stage and into his first song ‘When We Were on Fire’ and bloody hell, he set the room ablaze. The crowd provided the harmonies and backing vocals and left Bay beaming. His rugged, husky voice already had us spellbound and we were only one song in.
During one of James’ slower songs ‘Stealing Cars’, which he claims to have recently fallen back in love with, someone’s phone rudely interrupted him. Announcing, “Cinema rules still apply folks” the guilty party was let off the hook. Unfortunately, this wasn’t the last we heard from various mobile devices. The highly romantic and popular ‘Move Together’ reached its peak of emotion and stillness when a bike horn ringtone went off. The juxtaposition was alarmingly hilarious and a cacophony of laughter followed. Surprisingly, James took it well saying, “I liked that! Shall we re-record the song and put it in there? Bike horns remix?” It was rather disrespectful especially after a pre-warning, but props to him for taking it lightly.
James unveiled a few album tracks during his set, which got the crowd hooting and shimmying along. The standout song being ‘Scars’ with which he accompanied a heart-wrenching story of a lost love coming back to him. What made this story even more touching was that the certain someone was in the crowd and had James’ full attention throughout his speech. I tried to prevent the soppy bastard in me from surfacing, but I must admit a tear or two was shed and my cool image was shattered.
James held onto his golden track ‘Collide’ until the end of the set, and by god did it blow us away. The energy was at its highest when catchy rhythms possessed our bodies and slick riffs rolled from the stage. James’ vocals are smooth like velvet and soul oozes out of him, and to make things better, he is exceptionally handsome. This man is no stranger to a stage, having just supported Kodaline and John Newman and in the summer opening for The Rolling Stones. Currently embarking on his headline tour, I’m going to need some serious self-restraint not to follow him to every show. I wish the rest of you good luck as well; it’ll be a tough month for us all.
Words: Fran Welch
Photos: Ruby Steele