IRISH singer-songwriter Gavin James took Manchester by storm on Friday (October 14) night as went reviewer Sheba Param to the Oxford Road venue.

At the beginning of his UK and Ireland tour, after supporting artists such as Ed Sheeran, James Blunt, Kodaline and Sam Smith, he definitely showed the crowd why he deserves to now be the main act.

The 25-year-old, platinum award winning artist, from Dublin, performed a range of songs from his album ‘Bitter Pill’ alongside a few well known classics.

His vocal range was even more astounding live and he also had no problems interacting and connecting with the crowd in between tracks.

Before his arrival, there were two support acts: Declan Greene and Craig Gallagher.

Accompanied by just a guitar, in front of hundreds of fans Green let out his best jokes and, thankfully, it was a success!

The mise-en-scene for the evening was set, a warm flush of blue, green, purple and pink lights lit the stage, laughter rumbled across the pit and drinks began to flow; it was clear a great night was to follow.

After the crowd had gathered themselves, and managed to hold back the tears of laughter, Gallagher took to the stage.

Maybe it’s something they only teach in Ireland, but Craig’s craic only made the roaring laughter begin again!

The crowd even had to be silenced on several occasions.

His edgy tone of voice didn’t fail to disappoint either.

Some original tracks were followed by a heartfelt cover of the great Elvis Presley’s, ‘Can’t Help Falling in Love’  which was poignant and beautiful.

Gallagher invited the crowd to sing along, to which they began to belt out the famous lyrics.

His presence on stage was very uplifting and vibrated through the crowd as Gorilla began to fill up, awaiting the arrival of James. But wait, he wasn’t done yet!

To round up his set Gallagher finished with a song of his own, that is available on his newly released ep ‘Home’ and he showed he’s definitely one to keep an eye on in the music industry.

I think the crowd had been worked up to the perfect level, you could feel the level of excitement as they counted down the minutes until the headline act entered the stage.

Ding! He strutted on stage, guitar in hand and the roars and whistles erupted.

Aoife Byrne, 22, from Dublin was sat next to me: “I’d seen him perform at the Electric Picnic music festival when he supported Ed Sheeran, and he was amazing.

“I travelled to Manchester this weekend just to see him again!”

Despite being ill just a few weeks ago, James opened up with ‘Till the sun comes up’, his vocals were undeniably superb.

Drenched in a delicate warm white light, the crowd stared back in awe.

This song brought an eerie silence to the room as the crowd soaked up the pure talent and beautiful connotations it delivered.

He is by no means a shy performer, as you would assume from the emotional heartfelt songs, but rather the complete opposite.

He’s a crowd pleaser, with the correct balance of whit and intimacy.

During a couple of his songs, he would stop and get the crowd to sing along, or take it in turns singing lines which they happily played along with.

However, this meant the crowd had to repeatedly be hushed.

The Irishman gave us the pleasure of performing a brand new song called ‘Red Lights’ to which the crowd could not have been more satisfied; whistles and a wave of applause followed.

Gavin James
James stood front and centre in front of an adoring Manchester crowd

When creating a mix between the classic Louis Armstrong ‘What a Wonderful World’ and his own ‘Say Hello’, his impressions sent the crowd into hysterics.

He then prompted us to do our best cookie monster voice and join in; I for one didn’t hold back.

The highlight of the show was when James climbed off stage and immersed himself into the crowd, to sing an acoustic version of Ray Charles ‘You Don’t Know Me’.

If he hadn’t won you over before now, and your girlfriend had just forced you to take her, it was this moment that showed the real stripped down artist, just him, the guitar and the crowd.

It was a beautiful moment.

I could go on and on about how wonderful this performance was, but the only way you’ll truly understand is if you grab yourself some tickets.

Fans of James are already keeping their eyes peeled for an announcement of his return to Manchester…the sooner the better please Gavin!

By Sheba Param


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