Any given night in New York City presents an opportunity for a music fan to fall in love with a new artist, or further fuel an already-existing admiration. So it was on Tuesday night – while Beyonce was biking to the packed last leg of her Mrs Carter Presents tour in Brooklyn, and Disclosure were raising temperatures in Central Park, New Zealand’s 16-year-old star-in-the-making singer Lorde was taking to a US stage for the first time. And, in a basement near Union Square, a man, his hat and his guitar were also making introductions.
22-year-old British singer-songwriter James Bay opened for Little Green Cars at The Studio at Webster Hall. It was his first time in New York, and he brought his tunes of woe and wonder to the intimate venue. Listening to Bay, it’s clear that he’s a sucker for love, even though his heart has been broken, probably more than once, or a few times by the same girl. His gravel voice plays to his influences of Crosby, Stills & Nash and James Taylor, and even hints at more contemporary shades of James Morrison and Paolo Nutini.
At times, Bay battled a crowd filled with people who enjoy shout-talking at gigs. While he didn’t seem to let it bother him, and seemed jovial and grateful just for the chance to play in NYC, perhaps if he finds that little something more than what he’s doing right now, he might see crowds more willing to give him a chance here. I sure hope so, because he’s got the makings of being a fine talent to appreciate and really listen to.
The audience certainly piped down when the five souls that make up Little Green Cars filled the little black stage. The kind of silence that prompts one to use the “it was so quiet you could hear a pin drop” analogy filled the room, as the band made its way through its Irish-rooted take on Americana. Although still a relatively new band, LGC has made many a trip to New York but this was my first time seeing them, so I was playing catch-up with tunes like Harper Lee, The Kitchen Floor and the ever-popular The John Wayne, as singer Stevie Appleby regaled us with the stories behind the songs.
The way the band is able to breathlessly move from an acapella number to a full-throttled indie-powered rock song is a marvellous feat. It’s part of the charm of this band – how varied and interesting the show they play is. The gig was filmed for MTV’s Artists to Watch, as LGC played tracks from their just released first full-length album, Absolute Zero. To end it all off, each of the members climbed off the stage to perform an encore, right in the middle of the room – just like the Irish do it, acoustic and arresting.
For me, it was the start of another beautiful relationship.
James Bay’s EP is here, and Little Green Cars here.