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On March 12, my roommates and I trekked up to the Upper West Side to the Beacon Theatre to see James Bay in concert. We waited for this night for a while, as we purchased the tickets during the summer, and the original date for the concert was meant to be in September. Then, James’ whole North American tour was pushed back six months. As much as we were upset that we had to wait, I think we can all agree that the show was worth the long wait.


Our night started around 7:00, and we hopped on the uptown train to get to the Beacon Theatre. I had never been to the Beacon, so stepping inside was a shock, as I was expecting the inside to look more like Irving Plaza than Radio City Music Hall. I knew we already had assigned seating in the second balcony, so I wasn’t expecting to get a great view, but upon turning the corner at the top of the stairs, I saw that the four of us had managed to secure the seats directly above the staircase, with the arch making the little section almost exclusively ours. This was a delight because I know I’m always worried about sitting behind a giraffe at any show I go to (5-foot problems). Our fellow concertgoers consisted of a diverse mix of ages and genders and came donned in an array of different aesthetics and styles, proving that James appeals to the masses, no matter what your typical “genre” may be.


Opening for James was Noah Kahan, an artist I had listened to before in the past, but one that I know will continue to be a staple on my playlist from now on. I realized I knew the words to more of his set than I thought I would, and I actually wouldn’t mind seeing him as a headliner sometime.



After a short break, all the lights in the house turned off, the stage completely dark. You could just about see a few figures moving towards the instruments. The audience was filled with giddy excitement, and I commented to my roommate next to me that “if he starts with Pink Lemonade, I’m going to lose my mind.” Less than a beat after I finished my sentence, the iconic opening chords to Pink Lemonade sounded, and pink lights flashed on stage, queueing screams from the crowd.


James played most of his songs from his newest album, Electric Light, and a few favorites from his debut album, Chaos and the Calm. For months I sat listening to my favorite song on the record, “Stand Up” and wouldn’t shut up about how great it was going to be live. By the time the night ended, James never did play Stand Up, but let me tell you why he made up for it in my book in the best possible way.


After one more break, James came back out onstage with his guitar and his bandmates. He mentioned how it had taken him a while to get to the Beacon, but how he was extremely stoked to finally be there. He said his reasoning was that he just wasn’t ready to continue this journey on tour without taking a bit of time and writing a bit more (Peer Pressure featuring Julia Michaels was released a little bit before this show) But his biggest present to this crowd was his performance of his newest song, which he said will be released later this year.

He said he was nervous because this was, of course, going to be the first time any of us heard it. But, the bright side was that if he messed up, we’d be none the wiser (which elicited a giggle from the crowd) For the next four minutes, as James played his acoustic guitar, alone on stage with a single silver spotlight, the entire audience was so quiet that I swear we could hear each other breathe. Then, after he finished his last note, with tears in my eyes, as everyone in the theatre was digesting in stunned silence what we just experienced, I heard a deep voice from a man at the back of the crowd yell “you [explative] legend!” The whole theatre then erupted in screams and applause.


He even pulled a cover of The Beatles’ “Come Together” out of his back pocket, eliciting screams from my Beatles fanatic roommate. His playful charisma during his peppier songs, such as “Best Fake Smile” offset the sobering songs, such as “Let It Go” in the best way. Even the light display was heart-pounding – how often do you go home and say to your friends, ‘wow the lights were so good!’ But that’s exactly what we did! The colors, the arrangement, the patterns that swept across the stage – it was all beautiful!


James ended the night on a Bay classic, “Hold Back the River,” and when he took his final bow with his band, I was wishing it was all a prank! That couldn’t be it! I was tempted to see where his next show was because I was that ready to see him perform again. (Is that weird? I hope that’s not weird.) I just know that I don’t care how long it’ll take this time, I’m definitely seeing him again when he comes back around my neck of the woods.


Samantha Chicca is a 20-year-old student in NYC majoring in photography and minoring in dance at Marymount Manhattan College. Here you'll find articles about her job as a dog walker, her love of reading, her lifestyle, and other interests!
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