James Bay, Koko, gig review: Critics Choice sings in the earnest falsetto of Ed Sheeran

There are references to Carole King and James Taylor but there's more Sheeran than Bay would care to admit to

Winning the Brits 2015 Critics Choice Award and coming second place in the BBC Sound of 2015 list, 24-year-old James Bay is already lighting up the pinball machine of popularity polls as he approaches the release of his debut album next month.

Performing songs tonight from that debut, The Chaos and The Calm, the Hitchin-raised troubadour appears onstage like a young Jack White with vampiric skin and a wide-brimmed hat.

Behind his guitar, Bay sings in the sort of earnest falsettos and earthy purrs of Ed Sheeran or Jake Bugg as the crowd echo back the inoffensive choruses of "Need the Sun to Break" and "Running".

There are references to Carole King and James Taylor but there's more Ed Sheeran than Bay would care to admit in his rasp-a-long's to "Best Fake Smile" and "Move Together".

Following a jangling rendition of Alicia Key's "If I Ain't Got You", a suitably anthemic "Hold Back The River" ends the night with the song that helped forge Bay's success last year.

Joining the ranks of Tom Odell and Ed Sheeran, Bay is another singer-songwriter with catchy but beguilingly simple songs that, with fans like Taylor Swift backing him, will no doubt see him topping the charts later this year.

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