Live Review: James Bay, JOY., Hein Cooper

1 February 2016 | 12:56 pm | Joseph Wilson

"Emotions running high and low, it was a mixed bag, but a full bag nonetheless."

More James Bay More James Bay

The first show on the Australian leg of English singer-songwriter and guitar virtuoso James Bay’s tour definitely made a great first impression. With a large stage set up on the south lawn of the Fremantle Arts Centre, it gave punters plenty of room to get a dose of the action. The night was kicked off by supporting act Hein Cooper, whose performance was a fun balance between old, poetic folk and electronic music. The Art Of Escape demonstrated his roots in folk music and inevitably the ability to build on that created something fresh and modern.

JOY. – a project spearheaded by singer Olivia McCarthy – shifted the concert down into a more eclectic, heady electronic mix. With echoes of artists such as Broods and Lorde coming to mind when she belted out her sharp, ethereal vocals on stage, the punters knew they were in for a good time. Her stage presence not being too extravagant, with only a drummer and beat-maker, she met the mark. Tracks like Captured and Weather really helped bring out the mystical melding of modern beats with McCarthy’s neo-noir vocals.

After a half-hour wait of witnessing the slow construction of James Bay’s stage design and sound-checks, the eponymous artist exploded onto stage in a climax of rapid lighting flashes. Really getting into it, Bay tore straight into the guitar and never really stopped, saving any greetings to the audience until after the song.

The intro into the second track, Craving, brought out some Taylor Swift vibes, with hints of country music lying underneath the heartfelt lyrics. After making some humorous obligatory comparisons between the British and Australian weather, Bay played Need The Sun To Break, a simple song about yearning for change. Let It Go was played half way through the set, kicked off with a lengthy, ominous guitar intro chock full of reverb. With the chorus being sung in unison by the crowd, the adoration the punters held towards Bay was infectious. There was a certain energy that bled from Bay’s performance, with his music signifying a perfect marriage between rock’n’roll, blues, folk and country. Emotions running high and low, it was a mixed bag, but a full bag nonetheless. With hands slowly waving to a sad song one moment, then the crowd jumping about at the finish, it was surprising Bay’s hat never flew off.

Don't miss a beat with our FREE daily newsletter