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Review: James Bay - Auckland Town Hall, February 2016.

Review: James Bay - Auckland Town Hall, February 2016.

It's always exciting to see a musician or band tour their first album, especially if the album is front to back perfection, such is 'Chaos and the Calm'.

Opening act MILYOUX (*note I can't remember how this was spelt) played a solid set of dance-pop as the crowd filled the Town Hall with a sense of nervous excitement that you just don't get in other venues. The Town Hall has an eerie beauty when filled with misty smoke, and couldn't be a more perfect fit for the show ahead.

'Collide' and 'Craving' started the show with a visual strobe feast, as James Bay was welcomed to the stage with the kind of screams usually reserved for teen pop idols.

'When We Were On Fire' finally got the crowd moving, motivated by Bay's enthusiasm and night long mantra that, "If you're feeling it, I'm feeling it." A southern style piano jangling while a spotlight lit Bay howled, "Now don't tell me no, then we're burning down," led into 'If You Ever Want To Be In Love', during which, us budding back-up singers in the crowd echoed the lyrics in a striped back elongated reprise.

It's at this point that one started to realise just how many guitars Bay uses in a show. His guitar tech could almost be a permanent fixture on the stage. Fortunately, with every new guitar came an instrumental or 'jam' lending to a fuller intro or insight into just how skilled Bay is.

'Need The Sun To Break' was no exception, and the relatively tame album track became electric live, marking the first time appearance of camera lights (torches? what are these even called these days), flowing into the slow building 'Running'.

'Let It Go' opened with white lights and mist filling the Town Hall's high ceilings. With such poignant lyrics about falling out of love, it's somewhat ironic that this is the moment the crowd visibly fell in love. From here on in, we were putty in Bay's hand, nonplussed by the casualness between songs. There was no rush or hurry to get to the next song, each lull and experimental riff only adding to the intimate atmosphere - which is extremely special, when you remember there's a Grammy nominated artist playing for you.

The deeper into the set, the more the phrase 'Chaos and the Calm' became intertwined with Bay's performance. The acoustic start to 'Scars' highlighted a softness to Bay's voice, whilst 'Best Fake Smile' launched a full-on dance party, and set-closer 'Hold Back The River' brought the house down with everyone jumping to their feet for a standing ovation.

Putting aside my fangirl love of James Bay, the show had everything a great rock and roll performance should. Moments to let loose, moments to reflect, moments to wish you were better at the guitar sitting in your room - all aptly summed up by Bay himself; there was Chaos and the Calm.

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