With his distinctive soulful voice and trademark fedora hat, James Bay was in his element at Thetford Forest on Friday.
High Lodge’s stunning woodland setting, which Bay himself remarked was ‘probably the coolest backdrop to a gig’ he had ever seen, added an intimacy and acoustic quality which were perfectly suited to his emotive and entrancing vocals.
The talented singer-songwriter, who was largely unknown before 2014, proved time-and-time again why he has been named 2016 Brit Awards Best British Male Solo Artist, weaving hits like Let It Go, Scars, Incomplete and Best Fake Smile in amongst his lesser known songs.
Bay wowed the audience – his biggest headline crowd to date – with his brilliant guitar playing and unique sound, while his humility was both endearing and refreshing and even made his cliché request for mobile phone waving enjoyable.
Towards the end of the night he invited opening act Joseph to return to the stage and the girl group joined him to perform covers of Look Out Cleveland and Proud Mary – ‘music’s all about discovery’ he said to anyone hearing them for the first time.
And perhaps that explains his appeal – with elements of rock, pop, blues, folk and country all present in his music, those listening can’t help but enjoy the journey he takes them on, rediscovering all they love about music while being introduced to something much newer and fresher.
Hold Back The River made for an unforgettable finale, with the at capacity crowd singing and swaying along in appreciation.
If this is James Bay after just two years, I for one can’t wait to hear what else he has in store...