On Tuesday night, indie rocker James Bay took the stage at the Hollywood Palladium for a two-hour set. Were fans bothered by how long they’d be on their feet? Were there groans from boys about how long their girlfriends would be perched atop their shoulders? No. If anything, fans were disappointed Bay wouldn’t be on all night.
As soon as the lights dimmed — only to vibrantly set the stage aglow when he took the stage — fans went wild, and it didn’t take long to see why.
Below are Billboard’s top five favorite moments from the show:
“We Were on Fire”
The lights warmed and softened to emulate embers and flames as Bay began by saying, “You’ve got hands, come on!” The crowd all too willingly launched into a clap-along as Bay sang the vocals with an emotional rawness. Halfway through the song, the lights darkened all of the stage except for an angelic spotlight on Bay as he soulfully finished the fan favorite.
“Hold Back the River”
“How ya doing, L.A.?” asked Bay. “This is a beautiful moment. Are you ready to sing loud tonight?” Bay teased, prompting an eruption of screams. “You’re gonna have to prove yourself some more.” He transitioned into one of his top hits as the crowd sang along. Bay smiled as he re-performed the chorus of the song so the audience could sing it “so much louder.”
“Let It Go” and Solo
Bay’s No. 19 track was met with the loudest screams of the night, which quietly hushed into a respectful silence as the crowd listened to his vocals soar over the song with powerful subtlety. As the song ended, his backing band left a brooding and sultry Bay to play an instrumental piece with a bluesy guitar solo that echoed through the venue.
Bay’s performance of “Scars” was one of the best examples of how his guitar skills and indie vocals can take an acoustic song and give it the power of a fully backed classic rock song. A solo Bay stood on the stage as an interspersion of chords and vocals lulled the audience only for them to be awakened when the drums kicked in, sending a wave of sound into the crowd.
The Creedence-written and Tina Turner-popularized favorite got the indie-rock treatment when Bay began the cover. Although the song typically calls out to Tina’s stage presence or Miss Congeniality’s drag queen scene, Bay performed it with a freshness that still respected the original.
Honorable mention goes to the call-and-response of rock ‘n’ roll yelling that Bay led the audience in throughout the show.
The show was Bay’s final U.S. date of the tour, but the musician will continue in late January with a show in South Korea.