Rae Morris Live Review: Alternative Pop Perfection

Image by Conor Giblin

When I booked to see Rae Morris late last year, I didn’t expect to be running to the venue in the middle of a blizzard, but that’s Britain’s unpredictable weather for you! Manchester’s Gorilla was the venue, my refuge from the bitterly cold weather, and Rae provided me with the warmth and energy I needed to face the outside world again.

Opening with the bleak and beautiful ‘Push Me To My Limit’, Rae showcased her powerhouse vocals and won the hearts of everyone in the room in the space of 3 short minutes. With this song, she produced a stunned silence amongst the audience and was greeted with rapturous applause in response to the track.

She immediately lifted the tempo with Europop banger ‘Reborn’, as she and her backing singer marched along to the snare drum beat. Pleasing hardcore fans, she next performed a reworked, slightly more electronic version of ‘Morné Fortune’ from her 2015 debut album ‘Unguarded’.

In this trio of songs, Rae showed the crowd that she is absolutely not the same artist that she was when she performed over the road at The Ritz almost 3 years ago. Now, she’s bolder, more confident and more experimental, whilst retaining a strong pop sensibility.

However, despite this, she proved that the old Rae has not completely vanished, by taking a seat at the piano to perform ‘Physical Form’. But this was not for long, because before the audience could get used to the old Rae, she was back on her feet twisting and turning all over the stage to the infectiously catchy ‘Do It’. This track, along with ‘Atletico’ which she performed later in the set, are just pure fun. They generate so much positivity and she performs them in such a cheeky and carefree way that they give her audiences big beaming smiles.

She invited her drummer to act as Fryars for the duet of ‘Cold’, with the pair walking slowly towards each other from opposite ends of the stage. This was such an interesting and engaging performance, yet it was so simple.

Later on, she sang a personal favourite of mine called ‘Dancing With Character’. Whilst performing this song, Rae had to put herself into the shoes of a man who had lost his wife, reflecting on the life they had together and processing the grief of losing her. She did this so beautifully, looking up at the sky as if she was communicating with the man’s wife and moving around the stage elegantly.

‘Under The Shadows’ – a hit from her first album – was very well received, prompting a huge singalong. This track, to me, sounds like a more modern ‘Running Up That Hill’ and I loved the energy that her band put into the drums and sparkly synths that were layered over Rae’s stunning vocals.

For the encore, Rae experimented with vocal manipulation for ‘Lower The Tone’, a risk that paid off as the crowd seemed to love it. She ended the show with the title track from her latest record Someone Out There, which spread a hopeful message and had everyone swaying their arms in unison. A great ending to a rock solid evening of alternative pop perfection.

Written by Conor Giblin (@conorjgiblin on Twitter.)