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James Bay – Theatre of the Living Arts – Philadelphia (A Concert Review)

Updated: Sep 13, 2022

James Bay – Theatre of the Living Arts – Philadelphia, PA – September 9, 2022

James Bay made his return to Philadelphia this past Friday for the first time in four years. This was his sixth stop of the U.S. tour for his new album Leap released on July 8 of this year. The singer/songwriter is no stranger to performing, which was very apparent in James' unmatched talent and stage presence at Theatre of Living Arts. Personally, I was so excited to get to see James perform at the TLA after virtually interviewing him back in July. He seemed so down to earth, and I couldn't wait to see his inner rockstar emerge live on stage. He certainly exceeded my expectations from start to finish.

The crowd for James Bay filled up the venue, and you could feel the anticipation in the room. I was expecting mainly audience members of my generation, since we grew up listening to his heartbreaking songs in the early 2010's. The crowd was actually a wide variety of ages and genders, all of which were pretty laid back. It became pretty clear to me throughout the show that most of these people were superfans and had been waiting all of these last four years to see Bay live. There were a lot of "I love you James" shouted towards the British singer throughout the night.

The show started with an outstanding performance by Katelyn Tarver and her band. Her soft, soprano voice was incredibly soothing, and her effortlessness made it seem like she had been performing her entire life. She sang songs from her new album To Change, which I highly recommend listening to.

James Bay hit the stage, guitar in hand, wearing his signature black outfit and black fedora. He was immediately submerged in his music along with his band of four. It seems like a microphone and guitar is all James really needs to feel at peace. Not only was he completely in the zone, but James was so natural up there, being so well versed in performing.

While we mainly know James for his slow acoustic love songs, the nature of his were very versatile throughout this show. At some points, James had his acoustic in hand, while other times he was riffing on his electric guitar like a true rockstar. I believe I saw four different guitars being played by Bay throughout this entire performance. Bay and his band kept the audience on their toes with intense intros, double guitar solos, and sultry harmonies. The song "Best Fake Smile" spoke to the band's musical ability, leading the song with an intense drum intro.

One thing that stuck out to me the most was the way that James had the crowd at ease during the entire show. His calm demeanor made the show feel so natural and comfortable. I managed to get up to the front of the stage, which made the experience even more intimate and personal. James spoke to us like we were just hanging out around the campfire, while he serenaded us with his lovely voice and guitar skills.

James made sure to bring the crowd back to 2014 with his hit song "Let It Go." The stage lit up with purple lights, and the audience was filled with nostalgic memories of the early 2010s. He also surprised the crowd with another 2014 classic, "Move Together." Both songs had me in tears, and I am sure I wasn't the only one.

I also wanted to include that James truly cares about all of his fans so much. He actually recognized a few fans in the front of the crowd from shows from his past, which also speaks to the loyalty of his fans. Following the show at TLA, Bay's tour bus actually broke down on his way to Boston. He managed to get himself to Boston anyway and played the entire show solo on his acoustic. That is a prime example of the lengths that James goes to in order to make his supporters feel loved. It is really refreshing to see performers who put in that much effort for their fanbase, especially such a renowned name like James Bay.

Brenna Hallman

Copyright ©2022 All rights reserved. Posted: September 12, 2022.

Photo ©2022. Courtesy of Universal Music Group. All rights reserved.

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