We were honored to see British indie-rocker James Bay in his inaugural ACL Taping in Austin Texas this week for the PBS Show’s Season 42.photos by Scott Newton
We’ve been able to see him several times in the last year and it’s clear that he’s maturing and evolving. From a shy solo acoustic artist, we got to see a full rock band this time. Three guitars, drums, piano/keyboards, all of it. The gear highlight for us is the bright red Epiphone Century electric guitar. If we weren’t already impressed with his own singer-songwriter abilities, he rocked a great cover of C.C.R.’s “Proud Mary” which suprised and elated the packed house and showed off his skills. He performed it like a Tina Turner R&B show. As a newbie, we thought maybe there would be a break or an issue, or a stoppage of some kind during the live taping. But hew was a full pro with no need for a restart for any song and no noticeable blips of any kind. He is still shy, and didn’t say much except a few words like “they had to pat my face as they said it was a little shiny for television”. Too funny. Realize that the high-def filming is directly in his face (two of them only a few inches away). A really nice guy and a sense of humor.
We love how he is still young and unjaded, unpretentious. Is he really only 25? He was almost Grammy’s New Artist of the Year 2015 -nomiated with Tori Kelly, Sam Hunt, Meghan Trainor, Courtney Barnett, (we’re still sad about this). He had 3 Grammy nominations. He came onstage in all black-stylish yet casual-skinny jeans, t-shirt,boots, and his signature fedora hat. The band was full-on casual. The show was different than expected. We predicted he would do all his big songs and be a bit chill and ballad-ridden but we were wrong. It was not only high-energy, but he jammed the electric guitar like a veteran rocker. He even did a cover of the Elvis Presley classic “Can’t Help Falling in Love”. He gives 150% of himself and it shows. The night was full of audience participation as he shouted “feel free to sing along”. And we did. People were on their feet most of the show and clapped along for most of the night (my hands still hurt). Noone more than the ten-year old girl in the front row that danced her bootie off and sang to the rafters in every song (we assume it was high volume but would have not way to verify that!). She was lucky and got a high-five from James as he came out for his unexpected encore. He’s so much more than his mega hits “Hold Back The River” and “Let it Go”. This is for sure one to watch when it airs later this year. Don’t miss it! You can see the show recap here http://acltv.com/category/taping-recap/