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REVIEW: Corinne Bailey Rae at Cheltenham Jazz Festival 2018


Corinne Bailey Rae 2018



Corinne Bailey Rae came in like a breath of fresh air in the sultry heat of an early May evening and wowed a Cheltenham Jazz Festival audience with a performance that was energetic, passionate and fun.

She sings jazz, pop, blues and rock equally well and sweet-talked the crowds in between each song with her soft Yorkshire accent and beaming smile.

“I wrote this song while I was working on the jewellery counter at Harvey Nichols,” explained the Leeds born songstress before performing Breathless. “It wasn’t very busy there,” she added, raising a laugh from the Big Top audience.

She opened with Been to the Moon, a song from her latest album The Heart Speaks in Whispers, that talks of astronauts, galaxies and stars as metaphors for a love that needs to prove itself.

It set the tone for the night; upbeat rhythms and rock-driven crescendos mixed with soulful ballads and cheerful poppy tunes. No wonder there were lots of youngsters in the crowd, it was the kind of music they lap up and can listen to alongside their parents, who were also carried away on her uplifting melodies and happy energy.

Her version of Bob Marley’s Is This Love was individual and more upbeat than the original – and it really worked. Her hippy side also came out as she played percussion with bells and wind chimes, alongside her guitar playing. This is one very talented woman.

Although now knocking on the door of 40, Bailey Rae comes across as ever youthful, not just with her demeanour and soft voice but physically too. A slip of a thing, her face is that of a woman 10 years her junior, and her outfit – a playsuit teamed with high silver heels – I don’t doubt had all the teenage girls in the audience (and a lot of the older women) gazing on with desire.

With Grammys and MOBOs to her name, as well as guesting with the likes of Stevie Wonder and John Legend, Bailey Rae has achieved much since those early days in a Leeds department store.

Thank goodness there weren’t many customers to distract her from her song writing.

Review by Helen Gadd



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