The first night of a new tour can be daunting for any performer and for Rae Morris this was the start of her first proper UK tour in concert hall sized venues, a step up from the clubs and places that she has played over the last 3-4 years of gigging. When she started seriously making music it was clear to many that the 18 year old from Blackpool was such a talented singer/songwriter that it wasn't very long before she was signed to Atlantic Records and started to play support to the likes of Noah and The Whale, Tom Odell, Lianne La Havas and Bombay Bicycle Club.
Now 23 she has honed her performance to a professional level, and yet still keeps that naive and modest personality which is so refreshing to see, compared to the celebrity focussed wannabe divas evident on other stages recently. Tonight her audience, like most nights is made up of fans of her album 'Unguarded', long time supporters who have seen her many times, fresh faced students of the local area, and there is such a wide age range from 14 yrs old to the over 60's - but they are all here, eager for another chance to see Rae Morris perform.
The show starts with a ticking clock sound that welcomes the whole band on stage, its the opening for for 'Skin' , a gentle introduction and perfect to highlight the bands talents. The track has an unusual drum beat, building with close harmonies supplied by Daisy Palmer, who not only provides the acoustic and synth drum backing but is such a talented singer herself, of which Morris utilises her talents to the max
Title track of her album 'Unguarded' and 'Closer' immediately follow before Morris then explains to her audience about the last time she played in this hall, it was when she supported Lianne La Havas "...and the room still feels so big", at that show she played a track which is very special to her, one of the first she wrote as a teenager. The song is called 'Don't Go' and has now been picked up by CoppaFeel! as a single currently released for the breast cancer charity. Morris herself encouraged all the females in her audience to make sure you check your boobs. There is an emotionally charged video to accompany the single, but even without that visual tonight, the song has such poignancy and Morris is effortlessly able to hit those finer nerve endings that then cover your skin in goosebumps. Both 'Don't Go' and 'For You' are two songs where it is basically just her vocal and piano, and the result is breathtaking, simple and so effective, silencing the room throughout.
Whilst she tends to remain behind her keys, although preferring to stand now than sit down, she does occasionally take the mike out of its stand and moves toward the stage edge to dance and sing to the tune she wrote for Clean Bandit - 'Up Again' . Both that track and 'Under the Shadows' are welcoming tunes for the dancers in the audience, but its the next track played live for the first time that is the highlight of the show for this reviewer.
Bombay Bicycle Club have significantly contributed to the rise of Rae Morris over the last 18 months, particularly when they asked her to be a featured vocalist to the stand out single from their last album. Called 'Luna' it became a festival hit over the last 2 seasons, and in the middle of the show tonight Rae stepped up to the mike and with only an acoustic guitar backing, sang this song in a completely different tempo and style, it was simply stunning to hear, breathing new life into the track.
After that its back to the dancier tunes and 'Do You Even Know' bounced along nicely with the set closer of 'Morne Fortune' following after which showcased Morris high vocal range.
A customary short break and then we return with the closing track of the album 'Not Knowing' and finally 'Love Again' . Those last two tracks have been the encore for most of her shows in the last 12 months. Tonight wasn't a sell out, but dates further on her tour are, after a brief trip to Glasgow and Edinburgh, Morris will be back in England on Sunday 4th October for the rest of the dates, and I would suggest if you are thinking about going, you should grab a ticket quick because this is a show not to be missed.