James Bay w/ Noah Kahan
Paramount, Seattle, WA

After the widespread success of “Let it Go” in 2014, James Bay has flown under the radar for the past few years, but popped up in Seattle in support of his second album, Electric Light, for a wonderful performance.

The beautiful night at The Paramount opened with Noah Kahan, who described himself as the “Jewish Ed Sheeran.” While his sound does carry a lot of ideas similar to Ed Sheeran’s stuff, Kahan’s voice and his sense of humor easily set him apart. Not taking himself too seriously and clearly ecstatic to be on tour with Bay, Kahan’s personality shone through between songs, making everyone in the crowd fall in love with him.

Bay is the exact definition of that sleek, modern-Elvis kind of look: messy hair, leather jacket, and a cool-guy vibe. That aesthetic is present in some of his music, like “Pink Lemonade” and “Fade Out,” but softens dramatically in tracks like “Let it Go” and “Craving.”

He got pretty popular back in 2014 for those emotional tracks he does so well, but after his debut album, his fame began to fade a little, though it’s extremely difficult to tell why. His debut album is filled with lovely folksy tracks, but they blend in a little with the larger indie scene. His latest release, however, shows off his sound so well. He shines with his blues-driven rock songs with catchy hooks, but can still get sad and emotional with instant classics like “Craving.”

His night opened with one of his rock killers—“Pink Lemonade.” A perfect intro to the night, the hint from his sophomore album was an energy kick that got the crowd jumping and ready for the rest of his performance. “Just for Tonight” and “Wild Love” brought more familiarity to the set with dramatic sing-alongs and intense guitar breakdowns.

After closing with “Hold Back the River,” fans left with big smiles and sore throats as Bay topped off his night. A wonderful closing to what clearly was a great tour, James Bay brought his best to Seattle to show off the highlights from his latest album.

Review and photos by Lulu Dawson

James Bay

Noah Kahan