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  • Brittney Williams


Updated: May 10


Indie Folk act The Lumineers (“Ho Hey”, “Cleopatra”) brought their Brightside World Tour to The Hollywood Bowl last Friday (September 15th), playing a dazzling sold-out show with special guest and opener James Bay (“Let It Go”, “Hold Back The River”). It was the second time The Lumineers were playing the Hollywood Bowl, so this was a special night for them. The last time The Lumineers played here in 2016, they had just released their debut Grammy-nominated album. So, tonight was big for them and their fans. It was also a significant night for their special guest and opener, James Bay. An accomplished artist in his own right, he had many of his fans turn out for the gig. One of those fans who attended was me. It is always great to see music fans turn up early to support the opener. I would love to see more of this happen for smaller upcoming artists. The Bowl was starting to fill up quickly with people running in just as James Bay had begun to play his first song, the Pop Rock Stomper, “Best Fake Smile” from his debut, ‘Chaos and the Calm’. Bay's striking guitar melodies echoed throughout the canyons of the gorgeously lit arena. Even though I had been to the Hollywood Bowl once before, the current view I had with my seat in the garden box section allowed me to see the stunning bowl shape everyone talked about so much. I finally understood what everyone was talking about. It was also the first time I had seen James in concert since 2018 with the ‘Electric Light’ era.

I could see how much has changed and grown since then, a clear and clean melding of the best parts of all his album eras. It was also great to hear how fantastic his current tour band lineup sounds with Bay. The drummer adds a hard-hitting and soulful element into the mix. James' guitar solos in the set are distinct, precise, and have a purpose. Overall, his opening set seemed to delight his and Lumineers fans alike. Other song highlights were “When We Were On Fire”, the emotional “Let It Go”, and “Hold Back The River”, where the crowd sang along. We even heard an unreleased track titled, “All My Broken Pieces”, which he played before his latest single, “Goodbye Never Felt So Bad”.


James Bay | Let It Go (Live at The Hollywood Bowl)


The unreleased track and his current singles note his seamless shift towards a new musical direction. The newer sounds are much more mellow and assured, leaning towards a poppier folk, towards a similar musical vein like The Lumineers. Although, his progression seems like a natural ark that his music would take. I cannot help but attribute some of this progression to him recently becoming a father and husband as you mature quickly. Many of the attendees were families and couples who were enjoying a night out on a Friday. Headliners The Lumineers, whom much of this crowd was waiting for, and in all honesty, quite patiently, walked onstage to Rihanna's “Desperado” and the audience's loud applause. Besides the intriguing walkout track, the band had a lot of energy, starting with some of their biggest hits like “Hey Ho”, “Stubborn Love”, and “Angela”. I had not heard of this before bands or artists performing their big hits and crowd faves first. This setlist was an interesting choice by The Lumineers. Frontman and Lead singer Wesley Schultz's anecdotal stage banter was also notable and affable. The Brightside Tour was a fun and incredibly joyful night, and when laid out in all of its dazzling folk rock glory, a massive triumph for their fans. If you were new to The Lumineers or fans of the opener, James Bay, it was a night of inspired fun, seeing into the luminescent and nostalgic world of The Lumineers. You can check out some of my snapshots from the gig below, no pro camera this time!



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Thank you to Republic Records for inviting me out, and don’t forget to check out James Bay’s new single “Goodbye Never Felt So Bad” which is out now on all DSPs.



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