James Bay at Festival Hall (Melbourne)

Small town Aussie, Hein Cooper, stood alone on the large stage with nothing but his acoustic guitar in hand and his beautiful vocals to capture everyone’s attention. ‘The Real’ welcomed a change of pace with some exciting electronic beats to layer between Cooper’s sweet mesmerising falsettos. His slick live production flowed together so effortlessly with a stunning build up. If his set is anything to go by, the announcement of his debut album on it’s way in next month is something to look forward to.

Olivia McCarthy aka JOY shined bright like a diamond alongside her band who created a dreamy production. Her sweet and breathy vocals combined together in a cloud of atmospheric synths. Beginning with songs from the debut Ode EP, they conjured up infectious dance melodies with percussive rhythms and heavy bass. They played a new track for us called ‘Gone’ which boasted luscious horn samples to really make it flourish. The audience swayed along to the smooth ‘Stone’ before being treated to a live remix version of her own song ‘Captured’ with a faster tempo and glitchy beats to burst with explosively good vibes.

The spotlight flashed on the backdrop to reveal an outline of a skinny longhaired figure with a fedora. The backdrop fell to reveal the one and only James Bay. Dressed in black from head to toe, he broke out his smooth moves across the stage to raise energy levels kick starting with ‘Collide’. It’s been almost a year since last performing in Melbourne and since that time his debut album ‘The Chaos And The Calm’ was released. This time around Bay was happy to be performing together with his full band on a stage he excitedly told us is one of only four in the world with the same wooden floors still existing from when the Beatles once stood and performed in 1964.

He encouraged a crowd sing-along for ‘If You Ever Want To Be In Love’ and took a moment to slow things down a bit so that he could bring it back up again to have somewhere to go. After ‘We Need The Sun To Break’ our hearts instantly melted as Bay taunted us with the emotive guitar riff to introduce ‘Let It Go’. He continued to delve further into his raw and honest song lyrics as his band left and the spotlight shone down on him for the highlight of the set – ‘Scar’.

The band came back in and all together they broke it down for a jam session on ‘Move Together’ with everyone’s arms swaying from side to side and camera phones alight. They fished around their back pockets for a few more to give us an encore with of the sensitive and heartwarming ‘Incomplete’, marking the end of his slower songs. The set concluded with more of a backbeat as Bay insisted the crowd kept moving – a superb cover of ‘Proud Mary’ was sure to make that happen. The trilling guitars came to a standstill and Bay stopped for a moment to take in every cheer and applause before ‘Hold Back The River’ brought us home.

PHOTOS: JAMES BAY IN MELBOURNE.

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