Live Review: James Bay’s Grand Return, Stirring Hearts Across Australia – Enmore Theatre, Gadigal/Sydney, 12.03.2024

Last night, the Enmore Theatre transformed into a beacon of magic as British musician, James Bay, took centre stage, casting a spell with his soul-stirring melodies and heartfelt lyrics. Since his meteoric rise with the breakout hit ‘Hold Back the River‘ in 2014, Bay has solidified his place in the hearts of many, releasing acclaimed albums such as ‘Chaos and the Calm‘ (2015), ‘Electric Light‘ (2018), and ‘Leap‘ (2022). Alongside luminaries like Hozier, Taylor Swift, and Ed Sheeran, Bay has graced stages across the globe, leaving audiences in awe of his undeniable talent and magnetic stage presence.

As the lights dimmed and the crowd erupted into applause, Bay kicked off the night with ‘Best Fake Smile‘, setting the tone for an unforgettable evening. It had been six long years since his last visit to Australia, and Bay expressed his sheer excitement at being back, admitting he had been dreaming about it every day since. His genuine affection for his fans was unmistakable; it’s clear he cherishes them just as deeply as they adore him.

As the words, “I just need you to do the thing you do Sydney, sing so loud“, resonated through the venue, Bay urged every soul in the audience to embrace the moment and let their voices soar. And soar they did, particularly when he strummed the chords of his 2015 hit ‘If You Ever Want to Be in Love‘. After the song’s final notes faded, Bay tenderly asked the crowd to join him once more in singing the chorus, igniting a sense of unity between artist and audience, sending shivers down spines.

As the setlist unfurled with the gentle ballad ‘Us‘, the ambience of the venue, heightened by the delicate interplay of lighting and the grandeur of Enmore Theatre, seamlessly complemented the stripped-back performance.

Reflecting on his recent performance at the Summersalt festival in Speers Point just days prior, Bay shared a candid moment with the crowd. He humorously recounted locking eyes with Matt Corby and being struck by the beauty of the encounter. However, it was the unexpected revelation of an epiphany that truly captivated the audience. Bay confessed to experiencing a moment of clarity in the bathroom before his set, hearing one of his own songs over the speaker. Realising he hadn’t included it in a set for quite some time, or even performed it in Australia at all, he interpreted it as a sign. With a mischievous grin, he proceeded to treat the crowd to ‘Peer Pressure‘, much to their delight and surprise.

As the opening notes to his latest single ‘All My Broken Pieces‘ reverberated through the venue, a girl beside me trembled with excitement, her hand flying to cover her gasp. But it was the first chords of ‘Let It Go‘ that truly ignited the theatre. The crowd screamed in excitement, and couples nearby held each other a little tighter. It’s a popular wedding song, and I couldn’t help but think of how many lives it’s touched.

James paused, letting the crowd take over, and it was pure magic. Everyone sang along, their passion for his music filling the air. It’s moments like these that remind you of the incredible power of music.
With the momentum building and the atmosphere thick with emotion, James seized the moment to introduce the crowd to something special: a brand new, unreleased song known as ‘Hope’. Bathed in a spotlight, he delicately strummed his acoustic guitar, delivering a soft and sweet melody that captivated the audience.

Around me, whispers of appreciation for the new song echoed through the crowd, a testament to its instant appeal. As the intimate performance unfolded, it was clear that ‘Hope’ had already found a place in the hearts of those fortunate enough to hear it for the first time.

As the beats quickened, the band returned with a burst of energy for ‘Pink Lemonade’, sending the crowd into a frenzy of excitement. James took centre stage, unleashing a blistering guitar solo that electrified the room. As the lights dimmed, signalling the end of the show, James flashed a knowing wink as he exited the stage. Just when we thought it was all over, he returned for the encore, standing alone on stage, ready to deliver one final moment of magic.

To everyone’s delight and surprise, James began with a heartfelt rendition of Elvis Presley’s classic ‘Can’t Help Falling in Love‘, captivating us with his tender vocals. Then, seamlessly transitioning, he shifted gears into his hit single ‘Scars‘, his voice resonating with sheer beauty and emotion.

In the blink of an eye, the band rejoined him on stage, and the atmosphere soared to new heights. The crowd erupted into euphoria as James launched into the grand finale: ‘Hold Back the River‘, arguably his most iconic song. It was a moment of pure musical bliss, a fitting conclusion to an unforgettable evening.

Next on his tour itinerary, James Bay will grace Fremantle, Western Australia, with his soul-stirring melodies and magnetic stage presence. Following this, he’ll embark on a series of performances at Summersalt Festivals across Australia, continuing to share his talents with audiences far and wide.

Tour dates:

MAR 14: Fremantle, WA – James Bay Live
MAR 16: St Kilda, VIC – Summersalt – James Bay, Matt Corby, Ziggy Alberts & more
MAR 17: Newington, VIC – Summersalt – James Bay, Matt Corby, Ziggy Alberts & more
MAR 23: Sandstone Point, QLD – Summersalt – James Bay, Matt Corby, Ziggy Alberts & more
MAR 24: Seppeltsfield, SA – Summersalt – James Bay, Matt Corby, Ziggy Alberts & more

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