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Mitch James - Gig Review: Mitch James @ Theatre Royal, Nelson - 28/06/2019

29 Jun 2019 // A review by jacquiew

A youthful capacity crowd packed out Nelson’s Theatre Royal to welcome Mitch James as part of his national Bright Blue Skies tour. Seating had been cleared to allow for audience members to stand and dance up close to the band, but the ushers took a dim view of the enthusiasm in the room when it got to the point of people being raised on top of their friends’ shoulders – the venue isn’t quite ready for that kind of crowd just yet.

Support act Mako Road got things off to a flying start. They are a well-rehearsed group with a pleasant groove, originally formed while the members were at the University of Canterbury. The lead guitar player Connor McErlich is particularly good. It’d be great if the vocalist could articulate the lyrics more clearly as I couldn’t distinguish any of the words, but that didn’t seem to matter to the crowd, who gave the group a warm welcome and sustained appreciation throughout their reasonably long set.

Mitch James was greeted with what could only be described as rapturous adulation as he took to the stage and launched into Can’t Help Myself. All The Ways To Say Goodbye followed, and it was clear that this was a room packed with die-hard fans who know, and are happy to sing, all of James’ lyrics.

For his part James gave fully and energetically to the crowd. He has a humble and engaging patter between songs and an endearing way of telling the stories behind the songs without ever being self-indulgent.

Lay It On The Line was terrific – with James in solid, ‘feel good’ form. He has a gift for the catchy hook, creating material with the rare combination of true commercial appeal and meaning. Then it was back to earlier material with Move On. More recent songs show the influence of production collaboration with members of Six60.

James has certainly got what it takes to both rock a crowd and bring it down a notch for his more sensitive material, such as the song he wrote about his friends’ journey to have baby One More. Crowd pleasers such as 21 and No Fixed Abode got the crowd going as did enjoyable cover versions of Britney Spears’ Hit Me Baby One More Time and Lewis Capaldi’s gorgeous Someone You Loved.

The very catchy Bright Blue Skies rounded out the set with James happy to oblige the crowd and play Old News as the encore, “only because you asked nicely”.

Mitch James creates jubilant, good-hearted, life-affirming, catchy music, that acknowledges struggle and heartbreak without being maudlin. With a vocal range that he uses to great effect and a strong band in support, James is an act that deserves success. He clearly and deservedly has the adulation of a dedicated fan base who see him as part of the soundtrack of their lives. You can’t get better than that.


About Mitch James

In September 2018, Auckland-based Mitch James released his self-titled, debut album. One year on it is certified Gold and features 1 Platinum (21) and 3 Gold Singles (Bright Blue Skies, Old News, All the Ways to Say Goodbye) as well as 3x 1 NZ Airplay Hits. James' talent isn't just being recognised in his home country; he's also collected Gold records in Sweden (No Fixed Abode) and Australia (Bright Blue Skies) and amassed a staggering 120 million streams worldwide.

As well as opening for Ed Sheeran across 3 shows to a combined audience of 160,000 people, he has played NZ’s biggest festivals (Rhythm & Vines, Bay Dreams) and sold out headline shows in both NZ and the UK. His most recent NZ tour sold over 10,000 tickets.

In 2019 he was been nominated for 3 NZ Music Awards – Album of the Year, Best Solo Artist and Best Pop Artist. In 2018 he won MTV’s European Music Award for Best New Zealand Act.

Visit the muzic.net.nz Profile for Mitch James


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