James Bay – Twickenham Stadium – 19.06.18
Back in March we caught James Bay’s Electric Brixton gig – his sophomore album showcase, before a UK tour would see him stop off at venues including Camden’s Roundhouse. Just a quarter of a year later, and with Electric Light hitting the #2 spot, Bay is back in the capital, this time opening for The Rolling Stones on their No Filter dates. For this tour, The Stones picked a different act for each date, with legends within their own rights including The Specials, Liam Gallagher and Florence + The Machine chosen as openers. It’s clear to see that Bay has found himself in good company, and rightfully so.
With a short set performed to a crowd who, for the most part, might have only heard the odd track on Radio 2, he keeps things focussed on his debut, The Chaos and The Calm. Wild Love is perhaps the most known from Electric Light, but is one of the more subdued numbers. Let It Go appears midway as a source of recognition, Hold Back The River closes the set, naturally, and bizarrely, a cover of Tina Turner’s The Best preludes this. If the thinking behind this decision was to get the crowd onside, it was one well made.
Of course, when one plays a stage that will soon host the county’s most legendary rock band, one does not dress down, and Bay’s silver suit is the ideal outfit for his appearance later on, for a duet of Beast of Burden during the Stones’ set. Bay is clearly elated to be a part of the performance (who wouldn’t be?!), and while the band seem to go off course occasionally – just as they do many times; in realty they’re simply an phenomenally successful lil’ freewheelin’ blues act – Bay keeps up and follows Jagger’s lead. He’s already played to huge crowds, including Glastonbury’s Pyramid stage, but if joining Mick, Keef, Charlie and Ronnie has given him one thing, it should be the reassurance that if he gives his audience what they want (and from all accounts, a change and his more experimental side is what they needed), he could be doing it for a very long time yet.