Corrine Bailey Rae - Live Review by Adrian Brown

To start with I have to be honest with you.  I have been a huge fan of Corrine Bailey Rae since her first album was released and if it were possible to wear out a CD through constant playing my copy would have been a goner ages ago.  So, now I have to write an objective review of her live performance at the assembly rooms in Leamington Spa.  Tall order or what?

It can be dangerous ground when you see someone live for the first time that you have loved to hear on your stereo and who has a reputation for amazing vocals.  The live reality occasionally can be somewhat disappointing.  Not so in this case.  Frankly, Corrine Bailey Rae was amazing.  Listening to her singing live was like having dark, Belgian chocolate melted and slowly poured into my ears.  It was a thing of sonic beauty; a rapture inducing blissful musical experience that will happily reside alongside my best ever gigs for many years, if not for life.  Well, I did say objective may be difficult.

The change in the atmosphere was tangible as the first notes of the opening number ‘Are You Here’ cascaded from the stage and as the lyrics effortlessly poured from her mouth it was evident that this would be a vocal master class with incredible harmonies from Corrine and her wonderful backing singers.

The song order choices were both interesting and effective as the tempo and energy of ‘Paris Nights/New York Morning’ moved into the super sensual ‘Closer’ with bass and drums so tight they were virtually glued together and the haunting and soaring choruses of ‘Love’s on its Way’ showing that serious power in music does not have to mean heavy distorted guitars and rock beats.

The ever popular ‘Like a Star’ was a real crowd pleaser, seeing every audience member singing quietly along (an audience with respect enough not to sing too loud) and was, if it were possible, smoother than the recorded version.  This was followed by a bluesy 12/8 New Orleans style ‘Que Sera Sera’ with some of the most musical drumming I’ve seen in a while and he continued this with a subtly syncopated solo introduction to ‘The Blackest Lily’ which also had some fabulous Hammond organ in the choruses.

The mood changed again with the silky smooth ‘I’d Do it All Again’.  With its really fascinating chord changes, beautiful little triplet fills on the drums, momentary, almost imperceptible, drag on the tempo in the verses and powerfully rousing choruses, this was one of the highlights of the show for me as was the cool groove of ‘feels like the first time’ which got the audience moving again and the reggae treatment of a very sexy, swaggering version of ‘I Only Have Eyes for You’ with its huge bass sound was a real treat.

‘Put Your Records On’ got the biggest crowd reaction, as you would expect from probably her most famous song and the energy continued to ascend with the up tempo, solid and punchy ‘Paper Dolls’ and the rhythmic opening and power driven chorus of ‘Diving for Hearts’.

The jazzy ‘I Would Like to Call it Beauty’ and the laid back, chilled out mood of ‘The Sea’ perfectly sealed the end of the main set and ‘Till it Happens to You’ was a perfect choice for the inevitable encore.

With such a great venue, excellent depth and quality of sound and some of the very best music you could ever wish to see live, this was a concert not to be missed.

 


Image copyright:  Adrian Brown - http://www.clearimagephotography.co.uk/

 

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