REVIEW: James Bay, O2 Academy, Newcastle

Singer-songwriter James Bay performing at the O2 Academy in Newcastle. Pic: Marie-Westmoreland-Thornhill.
Singer-songwriter James Bay performing at the O2 Academy in Newcastle. Pic: Marie-Westmoreland-Thornhill.

James Bay showed fans what he is made of at his sold-out show in Newcastle’s 02 Academy last night.

It’s always a pleasure to see an artist grow, and it’s only five months since I saw the Hitchin-born singer-songwriter play at Newcastle University’s Students’ Union.

Singer-songwriter James Bay performing at the O2 Academy in Newcastle. Pic: Marie-Westmoreland-Thornhill.

Singer-songwriter James Bay performing at the O2 Academy in Newcastle. Pic: Marie-Westmoreland-Thornhill.

He’s come such a long way in that time, and his confidence levels and stage presence have increased tenfold.

He owned the stage as he belted out track after track from his chart-topping début album Chaos and the Calm.

The stunning song Scars - penned about his girlfriend, which took him two years to write - started delicately, and as Bay was about to unleash the heartfelt chorus, fans beat him to it, taking the song over.

Singing along in unison, Bay stepped away from his microphone grinning in awe, before picking up the song again and carrying it to its climax.

Singer-songwriter James Bay performing at the O2 Academy in Newcastle. Pic: Marie-Westmoreland-Thornhill.

Singer-songwriter James Bay performing at the O2 Academy in Newcastle. Pic: Marie-Westmoreland-Thornhill.

The 24-year troubadour appeared taken back by the deafening applause which punctuated the show throughout.

Before introducing Let It Go, he said the way he speaks is “pretty boring” compared to the North East accent, and told fans to refer to it as ‘Let It Gan’ before performing the crowd-pleaser.

Livelier tracks such as Craving and Best Fake Smile went down a storm, and ballads Move Together and Incomplete were well-received too.

Just when I thought I’d seen all Bay could give, he unleashed his incredible cover of Alicia Keys’ If I Ain’t Got Nothing, indulging in an epic guitar solo, showcasing his talent to the maximum.

Singer-songwriter James Bay performing at the O2 Academy in Newcastle. Pic: Marie-Westmoreland-Thornhill.

Singer-songwriter James Bay performing at the O2 Academy in Newcastle. Pic: Marie-Westmoreland-Thornhill.

It seems there’s a lot more to come from the star, who saved his most popular hit, Hold Back The River, until last, ending the show on a high.

Support came from soulful 21-year-old singer-songwriter Samm Henshaw, who showcased songs from his EP The Sound Experiment, and is one to watch out for.

Sassy American singer-songwriter Elle King captivated the crowd with songs from her début album Love Stuff, which comes out in October.

Her powerful and distinctive voice is instantly likeable, and she also could be a force to be reckoned with.

Singer-songwriter James Bay performing at the O2 Academy in Newcastle. Pic: Marie-Westmoreland-Thornhill.

Singer-songwriter James Bay performing at the O2 Academy in Newcastle. Pic: Marie-Westmoreland-Thornhill.

Fans watch singer-songwriter James Bay performing at the O2 Academy in Newcastle. Pic: Marie-Westmoreland-Thornhill.

Fans watch singer-songwriter James Bay performing at the O2 Academy in Newcastle. Pic: Marie-Westmoreland-Thornhill.

Singer-songwriter James Bay performing at the O2 Academy in Newcastle. Pic: Marie-Westmoreland-Thornhill.

Singer-songwriter James Bay performing at the O2 Academy in Newcastle. Pic: Marie-Westmoreland-Thornhill.

Singer-songwriter James Bay performing at the O2 Academy in Newcastle. Pic: Marie-Westmoreland-Thornhill.

Singer-songwriter James Bay performing at the O2 Academy in Newcastle. Pic: Marie-Westmoreland-Thornhill.

Singer-songwriter James Bay performing at the O2 Academy in Newcastle. Pic: Marie-Westmoreland-Thornhill.

Singer-songwriter James Bay performing at the O2 Academy in Newcastle. Pic: Marie-Westmoreland-Thornhill.

Singer-songwriter James Bay performing at the O2 Academy in Newcastle. Pic: Marie-Westmoreland-Thornhill.

Singer-songwriter James Bay performing at the O2 Academy in Newcastle. Pic: Marie-Westmoreland-Thornhill.

Singer-songwriter James Bay performing at the O2 Academy in Newcastle. Pic: Marie-Westmoreland-Thornhill.

Singer-songwriter James Bay performing at the O2 Academy in Newcastle. Pic: Marie-Westmoreland-Thornhill.