Britain’s petite songbird Corinne Bailey Rae‘s performance last Thursday at Chicago’s Vic Theatre proved that she is a force to be reckoned with. Supported by a five-piece band, Rae’s soulful and powerful voice moved as well as resonated with the sold-out crowd.
There is an emotional depth and vulnerability to Rae’s voice, almost like a young Nina Simone, that made the performance unique and intoxicating. Rae lost her husband in March of 2008 to an accidental methadone overdose, and her loss and grief was palpable and gracefully conveyed in songs like “You Are Here” and “I Would Like to Call It Beauty”.
Surprisingly, Rae’s loyal group of followers are as lively and diverse as they come. They shouted her praises and words of encouragement throughout the hour and a half set. In “Just Like a Star” the audience sang along to every word. And when Rae belted out her smash hit “Put Your Records On” the crowd danced and crooned with total abandon…. which brought smiles and bright eyes to Rae. Altogether, the serene songs of bereavement along with an electrified house of admirers made for a touching night of music.
Australia’s Daniel Merriweather opened the show with a collection of modern soul ballads. Merriweather, who has developed some buzz from his collaboration with Mark Ronson and Adele, has a catchy, very likable, and marketable voice. Watch out for this one. Odds are he’ll make it onto the Grey’s Anatomy soundtrack soon enough.
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