#OnTheList with Xtine is a weekly feature from Fresh 102.7’s Christine Richie that will be highlighting all things music and more, from her favorite emerging artists, top female vocalists, and much, much more!
Fresh Holiday Jam is coming up soon and of course I’m very excited! Most nights you can find me at concerts. There’s nothing like hearing music live. I always dedicate an On The List to the artists playing leading up to the show, but I decided to kick it out to the fans once again. I mean, what do they love just as much as listening to or going to see their favorite artist? Telling you why they love them. I think it’s interesting to hear why people gravitate towards certain artists. Sometimes, their reasons aren’t the same as yours and it gives you a different perspective. Also, some of them are better at putting it into words than I am. That’s why I’ve asked fans of our Fresh Holiday Jam lineup to write about their favorite and give me their dream setlist.
First up is Katya Shkrutz, a James Bay mega fan and music blogger. We got to know each other through our shared love of James Bay, Kodaline, and Gavin James. We go to a lot of the same concerts and you will always find her right at the foot of the stage. I love reading her music and concert reviews on her music blog, Music is the Home for Your Pain. Follow her page on Twitter, @homeforyourpain.
I knew she would be the perfect person to write about James Bay.
The first time I listened to James Bay was back in the fall of 2013, when his only release was The Dark Of The Morning EP. Considering this was his debut, it featured some of my most beloved tracks that would eventually be included on his debut LP Chaos And The Calm. The six song EP included “Move Together,” “Need The Sun To Break,” and “When We Were On Fire,” which I would leave on repeat for hours. I was hooked on Bay’s voice, his lyrics, and his delicately crafted melodies. At the time, he was opening for one of my favorite bands, Kodaline, on their UK/European tour. I would have never imagined that he would soon eclipse their fame, headlining stadiums on his own, gaining traction in the US, and ultimately being nominated for three Grammy awards. But after experiencing a James Bay concert and hearing his sound live, it’s not difficult to understand why he has been garnering all of this well deserved attention.
I’ve had the pleasure of witnessing Bay’s talent twice (at the Hammerstein Ballroom in July 2015 and, most recently, at his sold out Radio City show this past September). Ticketmaster pigeonholes Bay into the country and folk genres, but those labels could not be any more wrong. Bay’s music is rock, but not too hard (I can’t envision you head banging at a show). It displays singer-songwriter tendencies courtesy of his terrific lyrical skills, but the tracks are never too wordy or too difficult to remember. And his vocal range never fails to impress, with its inherent rasp flaunting soul influences as well. In my opinion, Bay has perfected balancing all of his inspirations into a genre that is all his own.
At the live show, Bay will astonish not only with his vocals, but with the entire performance. His band (comprised of drummer Gerry Morgan, bassist Thomas Peel, keyboardist/guitarist Jack Duxbury, and guitarist Andy Cortes) compliments and jives with everything that Bay stands for, feeding off of his ultimate creative direction. The cohesion among the musicians is on par with that of the best modern bands. And how could I forget Bay’s guitar playing? If you’re anything like me, you’ll want to take lessons from Bay himself. His talent rivals that of John Mayer, and I could honestly watch him jam out all day long and never complain.
When you listen to Bay talk about his music, either at a show or during an interview, it is clear that he takes what he does seriously. His passion pours through his performance, and his innate understanding of music is something that I can’t help but appreciate. Bay is always striving to better his lyrics, his melodies, and himself. And that’s one of the many reasons why I adore his work.
Here’s my dream James Bay set list. I’ll admit that it was difficult to narrow this one down, but I’ve included my personal favorites (ones that have been performed live and others that haven’t), as well as some covers that Bay has put his signature spin on in the past.
- “When We Were On Fire”
- “If You Ever Want To Be In Love”
- “Need The Sun To Break”
- “(Your Love Keeps Lifting Me) Higher and Higher” (Jackie Wilson cover)
- “Let It Go”
- “Best Fake Smile”
- “Wait In Line”
- “Heavy Handed”
- “If I Ain’t Got You” (Alicia Keys cover)
- “Get Out While You Can”
More #OnTheList with Xtine:
- #OnTheList with Xtine: Top Moments From Fresh Fall Fest ft. OneRepublic, Phillip Phillips, & Mike Posner