Live review: Rae Morris @ Leaf
Thursday 23rd February 2012 Review // Mellowtone & See the Sound present: Rae Morris – plus Thomas J Speight, Dave O’Grady // Leaf 23.02.12
It was a pretty full house at Leaf for the first show of Rae Morris’ tour and with two months of dates ahead, an attentive and appreciative crowd must have been a big boost ahead of the trip across to Dublin and a while on the road.
First up, having only just returned from his own tour was Dave O’Grady with a performance that was polished and full of warmth. The thing that strikes me about Dave is the superb job he does in translating an inner love for his craft into something that the audience can share with him. With a really distinctive voice (I’ll sidestep comparisons to Dave Matthews and Damien Rice – O’Grady has something even more interesting) plus a real standout track in ‘Dirty Little Secret’, there’s a lot to like here. I felt the cover of ‘With a Little Help from my Friends’ was an unnecessary distraction from his own material, but hey, the audience went with the impromptu singalong and a snappy finish at the end of his final song guaranteed all of us wanting more. A great solo performer, but I would be really excited to see the results if Dave chose to expand his sound with a percussionist, double bass, violin or similar in the future.
Second up, Thomas J. Speight, who persevered despite initial technical difficulties and by the second song, everything seemed to be working fine and he was in full flow. Perhaps ironic that later in his set, one of his numbers was deliberately unplugged, as he marched around the mostly seated audience with guitar in hand while co-vocalist Laura James stood at the edge of the stage. Unusual, yes, but it worked a treat and it was refreshing to be able to hear an unplugged acoustic and two vocals in such a packed venue. Laura’s sublimely beautiful singing adds a deep richness to Speight’s songs – most notably on ‘The River’, where her voice glides gracefully, falling slowly with a faintly angelic bittersweet hope. Nice banter between the two on stage kept the atmosphere up-beat and my only reservation (and I admit it is perhaps just a personal thing) was that old thing of saying ‘thank you’ before any applause- surely there’s a better way of getting people to put their hands together? Still, nit-picking aside – a solid performance. Finally, then, our headliner took to the stage. With such a delicate manner setting up combined with the fact that I had deliberately avoided listening to her material before seeing her live, I was instantly entranced by an amazingly strong voice, perfectly in tune, with sincere delivery and an almost tangible effect on everyone in the room. The audience lapped it up, after all, something special was unfolding here. Her rather nervous self-deprecating remarks between songs were amusing but an endearing artist at the beginning of an amazing career shone through. It was only after three songs that I realised that I was struggling to lock in on a lot of the lyrical content of what she was singing. There were plenty of gorgeous, soulful and rather moving sounds, but for some reason (I checked to make sure it wasn’t just me), I wasn’t getting much in the way of words. Having taken the time to have a listen to her music since, I can hear that Rae often ‘tucks in’ lyrics in a slightly unusual way when she sings and this makes for a more interesting listen. Perhaps at nineteen she is still just finding different ways of exploring her voice but there is so much positive to say that I’m sure everything else will come together very soon. After all, the emotion is already present, Rae’s natural ability is outstanding and I’m looking forward to hearing where she takes the likes of great tracks like ‘Walls’ in the future.
In addition to writing reviews for liverpoolacoustic.co.uk, Luke Moore is a freelance composer, arranger, session musician (cello/piano/bass guitar/double bass) and songwriter. With a business that aims to be a 'one stop shop' for bands and artists, Luke works with a lot of bands and artists in Liverpool, sharing their passion for original new music.