Music Reviews

“The Audience Were Elated”- Live Review: James Bay @ Rock City

Hayley Lawson

James Bay took to the stage of Nottingham’s dazzling music venue Rock City in the latter part of his tour for his new album Leap. After being given the privilege to attend, Impact’s Hayley Lawson reviews.

From the moment James Bay walked on stage, it was evident that he would create a thriving atmosphere through his charming aura and stunning voice. As well as an immaculate performance of his well-known songs, he delighted the audience with songs from his new album ‘Leap’. Even the songs from this album that I didn’t particularly know had me bouncing and singing along with an ecstatic crowd. The entire performance made it clear that Bay is passionate about the art that he creates, shown through his excited demeanour and dancing, an immediate brilliant start to the show.

Bay performed Give Me the Reason alongside a stunning array of lights which created an amazing atmosphere which was maintained throughout the show. This was notable in If You Ever Want To Be In Love, whereby the audience belted the chorus passionately, and Pink Lemonade with it’s notable backing vocals and upbeat tone.

When he delivered some of his better known songs such as Us and Let It Go, the crowd thrived on the ballad-like energy, singing along heartily despite a more toned down feel. This atmosphere was also created in Bay’s duet with Kevin Garrett (who opened the show), where the two sang Need The Sun To Break. This angelic duet was swarmed with flawless lyricism and vocals.

Bay’s stage presence was embellished as his positive energy was impossible to ignore.

For me, the most unforgettable song was One Life. Bay described that he wrote this song whilst in a difficult place, but he wanted to do something different from the commonly heard sad songs; he wanted to write a song that would ‘really, really help himself’ and so he wrote about what he had instead of what he didn’t have. It was so evident what this song meant to him as he smiled euphorically for its entire duration, and the audience were elated with him as they sang along word for word.

Another notable song for me was When We Were On Fire. Bay complimented this song with a stunning guitar riff in the instrumental, further highlighted by the fiery lights bouncing and amplifying with the beat. This was followed by a further guitar riff with impeccable intensity, magnifying the audience’s excitement. This excitement was reinforced in Craving, which had the crowd screaming and clapping along. In this song, Bay’s stage presence was embellished as his positive energy was impossible to ignore.

Bay followed his performance up with two encores; Scars and the hit Hold Back The River. During Scars, the audience belted along excitedly for the entirety and this song was completed with an in incredible final vocal expression. When he finally got to the highly anticipated Hold Back The River, he elongated the introduction, increasing the excitement which lasted until the very last note.

One audience member exclaimed that ‘he sounds better live than he does on the radio’ – which is unarguably true. Bay’s performance was enhanced by the backing vocals and instrumentalists, whom it would be an injustice not to credit for their incredible talent.

Overall, this was a fantastic concert, and I was delighted by the thrilling feel created in the audience.

Hayley Lawson

Featured image courtesy of Alex Watkin. Permission to use granted to Impact. No changes were made to this image.

In-article video courtesy of @jamesbaymusic via No changes were made to this video.

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