Nov 7, 2016

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Live Review: Corinne Bailey Rae – Sage, Gateshead

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Being from the North East and hearing that Corinne Bailey Rae was going to play the beautiful venue of Hall 1 of The Sage, it got my musical heart racing. The foyer was buzzing, the bars were full. There was a great sense of excitement brewing. Then the lights went down.

Jodie Abacus is the support act on this tour and started by telling us to treat this Tuesday night as if it were like a Friday, to warm up the crowd for Corinne Bailey Rae and he tried his absolute damnest to do so. However, unless you were in the standing area at the front, there was unfortunately, a lukewarm reception. Jodie sang his heart out with the help of his bassist and guitarist and for his final number, took to the keyboards maintaining his audience interaction. Thankfully, those in the standing area interacted back, but I think most of the audience were expecting a more relaxed affair.

With the room feeling and looking fuller and an almost boxing match-esque introduction from her guitarist, Corinne Bailey Rae entered the stage bouncing with beaming smiles and an upbeat vibe, starting the night with songs such as Been To The Moon and Closer, before taking the guitar and telling us that the night was going to bring us ‘old songs and new songs – something for everyone to enjoy.’ Throughout the night she gave us a little story about most of the tracks, which allowed the audience to connect with her songs more.

The night was filled with a perfect mix of songs, ranging from those that make you want to move, to those where you want to sit back and just soak up the jazzy vibes of the night. It was wonderful to see Corinne walk the stage and go from swapping her guitars to simply standing by the mic singing in her honey-smooth tones. Your heart just melts hearing it normally but the acoustics in this special room made the audience tingle more, especially with the ballads like Stop Where You Are and Hey, I Won’t Break Your Heart.

However, I felt on this particular night, there was something missing, although neither on Corinne’s part nor the band’s…but perhaps something in the hall of musical magic. There were times when Corinne moved across the stage when she looked to be in complete darkness as the light following her was too slow to keep up, despite it being a relaxed affair. Then there was the crowd. Those in the thick of the action would not have noticed but from where I was standing, the audience seemed to be stunned into silence, particularly when there were meant to be sing-alongs. During massive hit Put Your Records On for example, a few more bodies were moving, but the response seemed pretty lack lustre. I’m unsure if it was planned but when she came into the audience, those around me seemed frozen again. This truly baffled me as how often does an artist present this opportunity to the audience? I personally feel that with the response her latest album is having and the fact that we have been without her for five years, Corinne was just on a high and those that made the effort were feeding on this.

Despite my personal itches, to see and hear Corinne Bailey Rae live is a privilege and her encore definitely earned the respect of the audience, presenting a warming whisper to their own hearts as the night was wrapped up with Like A Star, much like Corinne throughout the night.

Victoria Ling