There’s one word to describe James Bay when he performs live. That word is: electric. Is that a reference to his sophomore album ‘Electric Light’? Of course, but it’s also the energy he radiates on stage, and what I feel each time I’ve been in the crowd at one of his shows.
And how I felt when he personally replied to me on Twitter!
I’ve been fortunate enough to see James Bay live three times. While each show was a joy, there are two that will remain close to my heart, that are experiences I will cherish forever.
The first, is the evening in 2015 when I saw James Bay perform to an intimate crowd of about 100, in the Paddington Uniting Church, Sydney. Yes, you read that correctly. I saw James Bay perform in a church, and let me tell you, it was a profound experience. It felt reverent, grounding and the acoustics were goose bump worthy as he performed ‘Let It Go’ and ‘Scars’. It was the first time I had seen James live and it impacted me immensely. It’s rare that you witness such talent in such an intimate setting, but it was the perfect way to hear his beautiful music and witness his aura on stage.
I also had the pleasure of meeting James after this show and he was so kind and lovely to speak with. It only made my respect for him and his art grow. Naturally, I was then sure to catch James live each time he made his way back to Sydney over the following years. His 2016 Hordern Pavilion show was lively and of a much larger scale, as I went from experiencing his music with hundreds, to thousands of fans. I felt weirdly proud, seeing this artist I love grow in such a short amount of time, and gain such a vibrant, engaged audience in Australia.
However, it was his 2018 Sydney show, held at The State Theatre, that made me feel the intensity of what I experienced the first time I saw James live. Much like the Paddington Uniting Church, The State Theatre feels reverent, grand, and quite frankly, magical. From the moment you walk in the foyer, you’re aware of the history that has filled those walls and it feels like an honour to experience live music in the venue.
James performed to a crowd that was eager to be up on their feet, dancing and as close to the stage as possible. It was an incredible atmosphere, as fans filled the aisles and sang every lyric back to James. It felt just as intimate as it did electric and I often re-watch videos from the night to feel as if I’m back living in that moment.
James Bay is charismatic and charming. At his shows, I find myself in awe of his guitar skills, just as much as his voice, never wanting the performance to end. One of my favourite songs from ‘Electric Light’ is ‘Wasted on Each Other’ and it was the opener of his set at The State Theatre. The bass, the acoustics…it was everything I imagined that song would be live, and I’ve been desperate to hear it live again ever since.
James Bay has blessed the world with a new single in 2020, ‘Chew On My Heart’ and if it’s anything to go by, I have no doubt the next album will be a colourful expression of life and love – and I’ll be first in line to buy tickets to his next Australian shows, whenever they may be.
Here’s hoping it’s sooner rather than later.