Gig Review + Photography by John Hayhurst

Rae Morris is ‘reborn’ as an electro dance pop artist. Almost 75% is brand new material played tonight in Leeds and she never stopped moving around the stage, New Moves, New Songs, New Attitude – just ‘Do It’!

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It’s a late start at the Belgrave Music Hall and Canteen almost 21:50 before Rae Morris takes to the stage and many are already worrying about their last train home. Those thoughts are banished when the 25 yr old (originally from Blackpool) takes to the stage and opens with a very strong ‘Morne Fortune’ her vocals getting an early test with its swirling operatic chorus.

From the start, you can tell tonight is going to be a different kind of show than past experiences. We have two drummers and 2 keyboard players – a change from the normal bass/guitar, keys and drums. Daisy Palmer, who has been Morris’s mainstay backing vocalist and percussionist, is now standing up behind an electro kit and wearing what looks like a cape, and “Super Daisy” proceeds to play some pretty phenomenal tribal beats throughout the set.

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‘Reborn’ is next and the quirky beat start is tempered with a Bjorkish low voice – explaining her awakening tale, it is really a personal soundtrack to what has happened over the last 12-18 months, new recordings, a different style and new beginnings “Nothing can hurt or haunt me now, I am reborn”. In parallel with the song Rae Morris hops excitedly around, big smile on her face and throwing shapes around like we are here for an interpretive art dance session, very intense from my position at the front and with no barrier to the stage. ‘Do You Even Know’ followed in the same vein and it wasn’t until she spoke that you felt the younger Morris was still in there. “It’s great to be back in the North” she says, and as this is the closest venue to her Northern birthplace a lot of family and friends are supporting here.

‘Someone Out There’ is the title track of her next album and this surprisingly is a break from the dance vibe. A much slower laid-back groove, producing visions of Parisian smoke-filled jazz clubs and Morris playing the role of soul diva.

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‘Wait for the rain’ starts with thunderstorm and rain sounds before turning into another mid-tempo dance beat supplied energetically by Daisy, and the always quirky ‘Skin’ then fits perfectly into this set of mostly new material.

Watching tonight it is hard to believe that this is the same person I saw at a House Concert near York several years ago. On that first night Rae Morris was a geeky naïve redhead girl who had just left school and was trying some of her own compositions whilst ensuring she was firmly welded behind the security of a keyboard. Finding it awkward to speak in-between songs, quite visibly nervous and with her eyes closed most of the time. However, that voice had the ability to take you somewhere else, and her songs have those goosebumps inducing moments which send your emotional needles into the red.

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I’ve witnessed her progression from permanent residence at the keys, to daring to take the mic out of the stand and stepping forward for 1 song, then the chair behind her keyboards disappeared, and finally tonight she will only sit at a keyboard once for a solo spot. Poignantly reflecting on one of the first songs she wrote in her Blackpool shed, ‘For You’ is delivered out to the crowd and you could have heard a pin drop, it is completely flawless, even with the strangest non-worded chorus you will ever hear.

Tonight, she bounces around that stage with unlimited energy, and during one track ‘Dancing with Character’ I have to step back as her ‘spin with leg out’ means anyone in the front row could get roundhouse kicked to the exit. She is completely toned up, with abs on show that Jessica Ennis would be envious of. Perhaps Nike should get on the phone as her sporty look and latest single ‘Do It’ could be more than a match!

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It’s evident that all along she yearned to be much more of a performance artist than singer/songwriter at a keyboard. Not surprising that her influences include Kate Bush, Bjork and other more expressive female role models, so her destiny is starting to feel much more fulfilled by losing those perceived shackles of nervousness and uncertainty. It leaves her exposed but reborn with some added confidence and this just “do it” attitude.

Watch all of this grow and develop as her 2nd album ‘Someone Out There’ will be released in early 2018, and hopefully followed with a bigger UK Tour.

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SETLIST: Morne Fortune, Reborn, Do You Even Know, Atletico, Under the Shadows, Someone Out There, Wait for the Rain, Skin, Dip My Toe, For You, Dancing with Character, Lower the Tone ENCORE: Push Me To My Limit, Do It

LISTENING Latest single – Do It released September 2017

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