Corinne Bailey Rae has not had an easy time in the music industry. After being built up throughout 2005, in 2006 when her debut album was released it was largely (and unfairly) panned by the same critics who placed her a peddlestool. Then following personal tragedy in the passing of her husband she went on a long hiatus.
In 2010 she returned with the album The Sea, and this was her first big performance in London following its release. For me The Sea is polarised, when its good it’s magical, when it’s not… well it’s likely to make you fall into the deepest of sleeps.
Corinne sneaked out on stage and led with the best tracks from her latest album; Paris Nights/New York Mornings, Closer – all were funked up and passionately played.
Then one of the sets highlights; she started playing Like A Star to rapturous applause and continued into an endearing performance, subtle and kind. As she progressed, tears started to trickle down her left cheek and even the coldest person in the room would have melted at such a beautiful moment.
Corrine was impressive in her versatility, able to change her voice to match the records playing. Toughening up to cover Jimi Hendrix’s Little Wing, then relaxing and smoothing it out for a reggae-tinged version of The Flamingo’s I Only Have Eyes For You. When the band picked up the pace is where she was best, Seasons Change was a great opportunity for pace and emotion to fuse as the song switches between slow and bouncy.
The Sea signifies a new era for Corinne and the trails and tribulations of the last few years have turned Corinne Bailey Rae into a new more mature singer of sorts.
Wednesday night’s show highlighted why she caused so much a stir in the first place. It was diverse and allowed her voice to do the talking. And while The Sea may not be one of my favourite albums, this show may very well be up there re-counting gigs of the year.