Words by Tom Frodsham.

Fellow northerner Corinne Bailey Rae was in Manchester last weekend to perform at Albert Hall, following the success of her latest album, The Heart Speaks In Whispers.

Soul singer Jodie Abacus warmed up the crowd for Rae, bringing his signature joyful sound to the stage. Uplifting tracks like ‘She Only Lives For The Weekend’ and ‘I Could Be That Friend’ were the standouts and a good indicator of what his upcoming debut album will be like. Read our exclusive interview with him here.

When Rae strode on stage, she greeted the audience warmly and enjoyed a good rapport with us all night. “It’s great to be in Manchester, as it’s near my hometown of Leeds. It’s always been a bit cooler than Leeds, but we’ll keep that to ourselves.” To be fair, she has a point.

Rae’s show was like a modern version of a Soul Train episode. She has the ability to perform tracks such as ‘Like A Star’ and ‘Been To The Moon’ in a way both soulful and poppy. She switched from acoustic guitar to electric guitar back to tambourine like a one-man band all night. On tracks like ‘Trouble Sleeping’, she broke the song down and hummed the core melody for about three minutes with no sound from the band. The audience didn’t make a peep. Who knew a bit of humming could be so captivating?

It was a good move adding a cover of Bob Marley’s ‘Is This Love?’ to the set. It showed the audience another influence of Rae’s music and fitted in well with the show’s vibe. Album tracks from her most recent release showed off some experimentation, pushing Rae’s sound further.

‘The Skies Will Break’ is probably the best song on the new album and she was clever enough to leave it until the end. The build up towards its live climax translated well and added a bit of punch to the night’s set. Breakout hit ‘Put Your Records On’ was a nice trip down memory lane and a perfect way to wrap up a show that proved Corinne’s taste of innocent soul is still popular in Manchester.

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Corinne Bailey Rae played at Albert Hall on Saturday 5 November, 2016, supported by Jodie Abacus, who we interview here.

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