Review + Photography by John Hayhurst

Rae Morris is ‘Reborn’ tonight with a new band, new look and nearly a non-stop danceathon.

Rae Morris-2

Having followed Rae Morris for the last 6 years or so (and not in a stalking way before you assume) I’ve seen the progress from naïve late teenage girl sat behind a piano, to what is now a fully-fledged electro pop artist. The vocals are the same, incredible pitch perfect tones that belie her still quite young age, but added into the pot now are beats, mixes and choruses for any student to dance around to in their room. There is now a curious fusion of ages at her gigs, from the older fans who saw those early ‘just piano’ days and the kids who can relate to the latest DJ mix.

Rae Morris-3

The first thing I notice as the band take to the stage is we have lost a few members, in fact this is a brand-new backing band compared to just 18months ago. Daisy Palmer her long-time backing vocalist and drummer is now working for Paloma Faith, so instead we have 2 new members, who each contribute a lot during the night.

Rae Morris

Rae Morris will start the night standing at her mic to sing ‘Push Me To My Limit’, hardly moving, just letting the vocals warm up and providing everyone in no doubt of the focal point for the next hour or so. “On My Tiptoes” she sings and does exactly that, aside from just a soft synth backing sound it’s really a brave acapella opening and with ‘Reborn’ up next we have the same tracks 1 & 2 from her new album ‘Someone Out There’.

‘Reborn’ has a quirky beat start and Rae puts on this Bjorkish low voice – it gives her the opportunity with the chorus to outstretch her arms exposing what are quite impressive abs – she’s been working out in the last 18 months as well as developing a different dress style and loads of dance moves. Hard to believe this is the same person.

Rae Morris-5

Rae Morris-4

‘Do it’ is becoming a classic pop dance tune, a chorus with just 2 essential words repeated over, and yet it has an infectious grip, an earworm that refuses to disappear – hear it once and you’ll be humming it all day. Morris has this ability to use her voice as an instrument, nonsensical words and sounds interspersed with heartfelt lyrics. Take ‘Wait for the Rain’ as an example, opens with “Yeah Eh Eh Eh Eh Ye He He” repeated about 4 times and yet it works so well, and the lyrics that follow describe female heartbreak as well as any popular poet could. It’s my favourite song of the night from the new record.

Rae’s drummer provides the Fryars vocal on the older track ‘Cold’, he looked a bit uncomfortable out front, or possibly that was part of the act, either way it was a good stand in, and nice to see some older songs making the set list. Gradually the piano based songs have disappeared – tonight we don’t get any until the encore.

Rae Morris-6

‘Dip My Toe’, ‘Under The Shadows’ and ‘Rose Garden’ are played back to back and ‘Rose Garden’ is surprisingly the final track of the set before the encore. It’s a mix of heavy synth beats and soft vocals, reminds me more of Kate Bush than anything else, complete with some performance art dance.

First in the encore is ‘Atletico’ yet another catchy chorus complete with more dance moves accompanying the lines “I was trying to be cool but I can’t really dance”. Then finally she sits at the piano and sings ‘Someone Out There’, it’s about 2 years old this tune, but it could be the one to put this girl into the bigger concert halls all over the UK. Whilst it is a great example of what she was doing about 4 years ago, it sticks out on the album and tonight also feels a little strange considering what went before. However, it is exactly the kind of song that first made me take notice, and if it does take off, (she will be playing it during sport relief on Friday 23rd March), it will be interesting to see how that influences her next move. Check out her wonderful new video for this record – it’s a homage to family and friends from Blackpool, she’s a Northern girl at heart – despite moving to London. If it is too late to get tickets for the last few shows on this tour, she is playing Nottingham on 29th September and Manchester Ritz on 5th October.

Rae Morris-8

SETLIST: Push Me To My Limit, Reborn, Physical Form, Do it, Cold, Wait for the Rain, Love Again, Dancing with Character, Dip My Toe, Under The Shadows, Rose Garden ENCORE: Atletico, Lower the Tone, Someone Out There

LISTENING: Album ‘Someone Out There’ released February 2018

WATCHING: New video for ‘Someone Out There’

Rae Morris-7

One Response to “Rae Morris at O2 Academy, Oxford, UK – 20th March 2018”

  1. John Wheatley Says:

    Thanks John for a great review! I am really jealous that you have been to so many of Rae’s gigs. She is Fantastic!!

Leave a Reply