Greeted by thousands of cheers, claps and screams of glee, James certainly made an entrance in his trademark hat and electric guitar, waking us up by starting with a classic 2014 banger 'Best Fake Smile' which had a mix of powerful vocals and guitar solos that kept the audience mesmerised.
This sparkling energy carried on further with a rhythmic beat as the singer-songwriter sang some tunes from his latest album Leap. One that stood out was 'Endless Summer Nights' which he sang with such passion and spirit it was hard not to get up and dance. Although I do feel as though more people were familiar with some of his older songs than the ones from his new album, this was to be expected and, surprisingly, it didn’t seem to affect the energy of both the room as well as James himself, who performed with confidence all the way until the end.
As enthusiastic as the music was, there were of course some on-brand soulful melodies that were played, and as soon as he sat down with his acoustic guitar, I knew that there was going to be a bit more of a deep, hard-hitting lineup of songs, and boy was I right. One of these songs included 'If You Ever Want To Be In love', which, safe to say, was performed powerfully but nonetheless with emotion and depth; his magnetic voice offered a nostalgic feeling of past love and longing.
These feelings lingered further with 'Save Your Love' from his new album. I had never heard of the song before but somehow it resonated with me the most that night, as though the lyrics centred around a feeling of betrayal and heartache it was delivered in a hopeful way, reminding us as an audience of our worth.
This idea of hopeful sadness seemed to be a specific theme for James, who acknowledged the hardships of living in a post-pandemic world as an artist, as well as making the most of things and finding love. Something he said that stuck with me the most was when he admitted "I can’t keep writing all these sad songs, so I started with sadness and then looked for a silver lining”. It seems that the singer-songwriter has come a long way from his ‘Hold Back the River’ days, now offering more depth both in lyrics and outlooks.