Sunday, November 27, 2016
Live Review :: James Bay :: The Slaughtered Lamb, London - Nov 25 2016
The Slaughtered Lamb, London
November 25 2016
Words/Photos: Jess Sharrock
As the celebrations of record label, promoter and publishing company, Communion’s tenth birthday continue this evening, the basement of The Slaughtered Lamb is graced with the presence of James Bay. This was the venue where it all began for the singer-songwriter. Three years ago to the day on 25th November 2013, Communion took a chance and offered him his first headline show in London. Following this, Bay has been on a constant upwards climb of the music industry, both in the UK and worldwide, winning Brit Awards (including Critics Choice award in 2015 and Best British Male Solo Artist this year), and seeing his debut album ‘The Chaos and the Calm’ reach number one in the UK charts.
The venue room fills up quickly with excitable ballot winners to this special entry show, just in time to catch the support, the lead singer of Port Isla, Will Bloomfield, who kicks off his set with a number of stripped-back versions of tracks by his band. Following a short break, James fights his way through the eager crowd to take to the small stage.
Donning his trademark hat, and a Beyoncé tour T-shirt, he thanks Communion for the incredible opportunities over the past few years, and his fans for their support. His setlist was a repeat of that from the 2013 gig there, which was a great chance for fans to hear a number of the older B-side tracks including 'Clocks Go Forward' from the EP 'The Dark of the Morning'. He went on to play through a number of songs from ‘Chaos and the Calm’, such as 'Let It Go', 'Move Together', and my personal favourite, 'Stealing Cars', a song not about nefarious vehicle removing deeds, but a heartfelt relationship breakdown song from the point of view of a guy trying to keep it alive.
After a quick impromptu sing-along of the Beatles' ‘Something’, James concludes the night with his own platinum selling 2014 hit 'Hold Back The River'. He informs the crowd that he plans on 'disappearing' for a while to work on a second album (super exciting news!), but promises he will be back as quick as he can. The whole performance was impressive, his emotion and passion resonating around the room.
I had the amazing opportunity to see James play one of his big, sold out O2 Academy Brixton shows towards the end of last year; then tonight in such a small, intimate setting, showed what a massive talent Mr. Bay is, and that he can wow a crowd no matter the size of the venue - and that is a real skill.
Finally, I can’t leave without saying Happy 10th Birthday, Communion! So many incredible artists wouldn’t be where they are without you.