James Bay Ace Theatre

James Bay at United Artists Theatre in Los Angeles, CA

Chances are if you keep up with any of the music awards, you’ve heard the name James Bay come up a few times. (Most notably at this year’s Grammy’s where he had three nominations and the Brit Awards where he had four nominations and one win.) There’s a reason the 25-year-old Englishman is making an impression on the musical gatekeepers and his performance at Los Angeles’ United Artists theatre showcased exactly why.

With a setlist consisting of just about every track on his debut album, Chaos and the Calm, Bay showed off not only his impeccable skills but also his ability to fill the sold-out 1600-person capacity theatre with his infectious charisma. Even from up in the balcony it was obvious that the singer/guitarist has a passion for music that that makes him a pure delight to see live.

The highlight in the set was when Bay performed his third single “Scars.” With a darkened stage with nothing but his guitar and a spotlight, his voice rasped with such emotion. It was a true testament to how a live performance can, and should, add even more to a song. While the singer/songwriter’s voice was already as smooth as silk, he managed to bring a whole other level that was nothing less than goose bump inducing.

Another noteworthy moment occurred when the band returned for the encore. Bay took to the mic to explain that while he had been online, he’d seen a post from a user who suggested that bands performing that night should cover a song by The Band to commemorate the fourth anniversary of drummer Levon Helms’ passing. Bringing out his opener, sister trio Joseph, they performed “Look Out Cleveland.” Though he had stated they’d just learned the song for that show, it ended up being a fun and upbeat tribute.

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Needless to say, James Bay is one hell of an artist that can really back up all the great things being said about him. Closing the show out with his platinum hit “Hold Back the River,” the entire theatre sent him and his band off with a standing ovation. It was well deserved, and it will be a treat to see where the road takes him in the future.

Until then, snatch up tickets for his upcoming Fall U.S. tour to see him as soon as you can. Chances are, they won’t be available for long.

For more information, visit jamesbay.com.

Text and photos by Victoria Patneaude

*Disclaimer: The words expressed in photo blog reviews do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Music Connection Magazine.