Wednesday, June 17, 2015

James Bay: Not Holding Anything Back (Including the River)

Hold back the river, let me look in your eyes
Hold back the river, so I
Can stop for a minute and see where you hide 
Hold back the river, hold back

Nothing can hold back the rolling current of James Bay's rocking raw talent.

And yet ... I almost I didn't go to his May 8th concert at the Depot in Salt Lake City.

After listening to his hit "Roll Back the River" about 25 times on YouTube, well that was the deciding factor.  

His timeless, soul soaked music spoke to a throng of screaming, first-big-concert high school faces downstairs. And it was standing room only for those in the "over 21" audience bar area upstairs at The Depot in Salt Lake City.  

Perhaps those of us old enough to remember heard hints of Bruce Springstein.

There was an audible gasp the first time Bay said a few words in between songs. His characteristic British accent and deep voice warmed me.  

James Bay opened with “Collide” and mesmerized to the finish. His set was replete with songs about love, relationships, life.  “Move Together,” “Scars,” and “Let It Go” suggested he’d lived more seasons than his 23 years, as he rolled through the Depot.  An old soul perhaps.  And to my delight, he wasted little time on chatter, in spite of his charming voice.  What wasn't to like?

The Depot holds approximately 1200 people. Ive seen it more crowded, but it was mostly full, upstairs and downstairs, a hint that James Bay can command generations of fans.

As I was doing my usual review-review, I noticed he got panned by a Brit newspaper, The Guardian. Ouch.  Blasted in his own backyard for being nothing special, he was characterized as “balladeering by numbers.”  Pretty sure America will love him.  In fact, we already do. His new album, “Chaos in the Calm” debuted at number one on the albums chart by March 30th and his smash hit single “Hold Back the River” is consistently in the top 20 singles.  I'm speculating we will be seeing him again soon on a U.S. tour, and … most likely at a much larger venue.  Whatever the “formula” is, it works.  Enough said.

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