Credit: Annick Weinandi

Review: James Bay @ Òran Mór

By Annick Weinandi

James Bay pays Òran Mór a visit on his intimate and cosy tour of smaller venues with a mixture of known classics and new songs he worked on during Covid.

It’s a couple’s evening at Òran Mór. Most of the crowd seemed like one partner gifted tickets to the other for Christmas. While there are also a few groups of female friends; couples make up an obvious majority. James Bay is playing solo tonight, stopping by several English and Scottish cities during his New Songs New Stories tour which takes place in support of independent venues.

The singer takes the stage looking like nothing has changed since he released his first album Chaos And The Calm in 2015, sporting his guitar, a flannel, jeans and a hat similar to the one he immortalised on the album cover. Despite appearances, a lot of things have happened over those seven years: several hit songs, a 2016 Brit award for Best British Male Solo Artist, a lockdown that called a halt to live concerts and, finally, a daughter born in October 2021.

The crowd welcomes the singer warmly, singing along to old classics and gladly accepting their lack of lyrics regarding the unreleased ones. Let It Go, one of his most popular songs, gets everyone in the room to sing along and let out their emotions. While there is some chatting around the bar during most of the concert, Bay finds an easy solution by whispering into his microphone so quietly that some particularly loud chats do not have a choice but to stop and listen. Songs for a bit of dancing, a bit of swaying, maybe even a bit of crying – Bay knows what the crowd wants to hear.

James seems contagiously happy to be on stage again, chatting to the audience about finding a way to tour while his partner is at home with their newborn baby in-between songs. “It’s been so fucking long”, he shouts at one point, “it´s been tough and hard years but now we´re back together”, earning a round of applause from the audience. The joy is mutual with a positive energy filling the room and a shared gratuity for those moments that everyone has been missing for so long. Bay leaves the stage after an extra-long rendition of Hold Back The River – one of his biggest hits – leaving everyone to a good evening and a couple more pints in Òran Mór.


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