Corinne Bailey Rae is a mixture of sunshine and blues; with an effervescent personality and sultry voice, she delivered a full set of perfection to Birmingham’s O2 Institute on a cold November night.
When one enters into the O2 you know you’re entering holy ground. The old church may no longer hold formal religious ceremonies, but if you came to the Corinne Bailey Rae show you may not necessarily see any difference between show and Sunday. If this was a church, she was our choir director. We sang, we swayed, we moved, just as she told us to.
Following a band introduction Corinne opened with crowd favourite Been To The Moon; from the most recent album this song is the pop psychedelic tune needed to bring about the dancing and swaying. In syncopated undulation we shook our bodies in trance like fashion, it was the beginning of our religious awakening. Our minds where hooked, we had fallen down the rabbit hole and became the Cult of Corinne. She had transported our minds, and soon enough she would transport our persons. In seamless transitions, hits Closer and Breathless flowed from the singer and her four-man band. The mixture of pop reggae and bluesy lounge vibes, mixed with the soft pink and orange sunset stage, transported us to summer. This was a church service on the beach, where good vibes and swaying palm trees encircle those in worshipful adoration.
For over an hour Corinne transported us to a new land and a new way of thought. The blues and reggae continued, throwing in some 70s psychedelic undertones and some slow paced story-telling songs. Favorites like Green Aphrodisiac, Stop Where You Are, I’d Do It All Again, and Put Your Records On mixed with a Bob Marley cover and band instrumental sections. The theme of the night seemed to be love, with Corinne admitting that “so many of these are love songs. Sometimes I’m pulling them towards me, sometimes I’m pushing them away.” There is this palpable sense of longing in many of her songs, as if she has had the first sip form an ever-flowing cup of sweet nectar. Love and life, longing and desire became the tenants, in which our cult circulated, feeding off every word that poured from our leaders lips as she masterfully drove us through this journey of love and loss that she has experienced over these past years.
Apart from the music Corinne herself sets up an environment that is contagiously warm and friendly. Her ease on stage automatically sets up an enjoyable show. Along with her comfort on stage her fan interaction is unlike any I’ve seen. Corinne on numerous occasions took time to chat with and connect to fans. She is not merely a singer; rather there is a symbiotic relationship between Corinne and fans. She needs us just as much as we need her; she adores us just as much as we adore her. Whereas many other singers just come and perform, Corinne and her band came to develop everlasting relationships and friendships.
The night wore down, and we sadly left, awestruck by what we had just participated in. Corinne Bailey Rae is a vocal powerhouse who expertly intertwines a sweet and sultry soul with creative storyteller powers. Her music conveys deeply rich stories of love and life, which combined with her ease on stage makes her show one to see!
Review: Kylie McCormick
Photographs: Ian Dunn