James Bay @ O2 Academy Sheffield

He supported the likes of Kodaline and Hozier back in ’13 and ’14 at the start of his career. He’s now just released his sophomore album, ‘Electric Light’. And it’s evident now that James Bay has firmly cemented himself as a quality musician standing tall on the pedestal.

Managing to see him live in the atmospheric O2 Academy Sheffield brought a somewhat intimate feel. Despite it being a jam-packed sell out at 2,350 capacity, it still felt personal. The entire gig from start to finish bellowed effortless talent vocally throughout the venue and made this a special occasion for any music fan.

Supporting James Bay on his Electric Light tour celebrating the release of his sophomore album is the captivating Lily Moore. Lily has launched her career recently and has a repertoire consisting of her 4-track, ‘Not That Special’ EP.

Live, Lily has an extraordinary voice which does not shy away from being centre of attention. Showcasing her fun personality in-between songs and then electrifying the crowd with spine-tingling, prolonged contralto vocals, Lily Moore very quickly proved that she is an artist with a gift.

Lily Moore supporting James Bay at O2 Academy Sheffield.

Lily Moore supporting James Bay at O2 Academy Sheffield.

It’s to be done with caution when comparing someone to a legend, but I would strongly say that Lily Moore is proudly following in the footsteps of late icon, Amy Winehouse. Bringing that style of vocality and intriguing lyricism is something that should certainly not go unnoticed.

Unfortunately, for a large part of Lily’s set, much of the crowd continued to talk loudly throughout. Recently on ICM, we saw Cigarettes After Sex where the same issue happened. Read about it here.

However, this issue was rectified when James’ backing band came on stage shortly after. Initiating chaos throughout the venue and then suddenly hitting an eerie anticipated silence waiting for the main man to grace everyone with his presence. Emerging from the shadows deep on stage, James Bay walks on with a modest yet acknowledged awareness. Rip-Roaring into a dirtier version of ‘Wasted On Each Other’s opening guitar riff, the entire 7-member band united into an encapsulating sound setting the tone for the entire set to come.

Opening up the set with ‘Wasted On Each Other’ and ‘Pink Lemonade’, there was a lot of attention on his new album, ‘Electric Light’. The LP has only been out a couple of weeks and that showed in the crowd interaction, although he did throw in a few fan favourites from his ‘Chaos And The Calm’ debut. You knew he was getting to his older music when his stage assistant runs on with his customised, red, 1966 Epiphone Century guitar. And after tuning checks, the crowd intensified with his vocals into ‘If You Ever Want To Be In Love’. This song for me was an absolute highlight. By the end of the song, the audience was so engaged James asked to hear it once more. No James, no band, no talking, just solitary audience vocals. “If you ever want to be in love, I’ll come around” – Pure bliss.

He played a good mix of new songs compared to his older discography. ‘Wanderlust’, ‘In My Head’, ‘Just For Tonight’ and the ultimate song on his new LP, ‘Slide’, featured in the set list, along with his singles, ‘Us’ and ‘Wild Love’. The singles drew more interaction from the crowd, but nowhere near as much as his earlier music. ‘Scars’, ‘Best Fake Smile’, ‘Let It Go’ and ‘Craving’ lifted the crowd higher and the overall atmosphere was truly electric.

Ending the set was a one-song encore. ‘Hold Back The River’. The control James had on the crowd; the mutual respect for fans and artists; the love being shared among friends and the sheer pride of all the musicians on stage made this such a special gig. With James Bay having headlined Boardmasters in 2016, to see him in the O2 Academy Sheffield, it brought such an intimate style to light, and that alone was captivating and indescribably mesmerising.

James Bay performing at O2 Academy Sheffield.

James Bay performing at O2 Academy Sheffield.

To see more of James Bay’s live dates – check out his Facebook page here.

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