James Bay at Lafayette
James Bay played an intimate acoustic set for just 600 people at Lafayette as part of Banquet’s aim to raise money towards tackling food poverty in the UK. It was a very special night.
Bay steps out onto the stage in his signature hat, a staple for him since his break out in 2015, and kicks the show off with Craving. His voice is immediately encapsulating, a truly unique gift that will take you aback whenever you listen to him. He riffs and climbs like no man’s business, his iconic husky twang clearer than ever in such a small venue. The crowd cheer and clap whenever his voice does something extra remarkable, which is often, aware that they’re being treated tonight. They sing along loudly to If You Ever Want to Be in Love, another track from his first album. Clocks Go Forward seems a fan favourite, with the audience screaming in excitement from the first strum.
It may be easier in a venue as sweetly small as Lafayette, but Bay definitely knows how to make this show feel personal to everyone. A fan calls out a song request and he sings them the first verse (Give Me the Reason), and he chats with another about buying his boots from Portobello Market. One even holds their flashlight over the lyrics for a new song, which are taped to the top of a speaker. There are laughs and hollers and the whole thing feels very back garden, very natural and friendly. He plays a couple of new songs for these concertgoers too – always an honoured experience. The first, Go On, is a beautiful song on grief, and you could hear a pin drop. The last new track, lit up by the fan’s torch, is one of hope, and it’s a highlight of the night. Hearing new music in a context like this is exceedingly special, even more so when Bay tells us he wrote this song just two weeks ago – and when the song is as good as it is.
Near the end of the set, he plays numbers like Us and Pink Lemonade and the crowd eat it up, singing back at him even when he’s not expecting it. You can tell how much he loves to hear them sing, and vice versa.
He closes out with the iconic Hold Back the River, a man and his guitar onstage, sending us out to choruses of “let us hold each other”.
Photos: Virginie Viche
For further information and future events visit James Bay’s website here.
Watch the video for the single All My Broken Pieces here: