It’s a subdued start when Rae Morris takes to the stage at Brighton’s Concorde 2. The penultimate night of her UK tour, Morris opens her set with ‘Push Me To My Limit’, the first track of her latest record, the sublime Someone Out There. It’s an album that deftly combines sugary balladry with succinct, forward-thinking pop – and there’s plenty of both on show tonight.
Segueing into the chiptune intro of ‘Reborn’, Morris is on stellar form. Her voice has a startling clarity when heard live, and is impressively malleable too. Belting out the chorus of ‘Reborn’ or trilling along to the glass-shattering instrumentals of ‘Rose Garden’, she doesn’t miss a single note throughout her sixteen-track set. And it’s just as well, as Morris’ voice is the undeniable focal point here. Accompanied only by a percussionist, backing singer and a knob-twizzling DJ, the production is often sparse, particularly for the ballads, that see Morris alone at a keyboard. Thankfully, she has the pipes to pull it off.
Morris plays every track from her latest LP along with a handful from her debut album, 2015’s Unguarded. Among the older hits enjoying an outing are ‘Cold’, ‘Morne Fortuné’ and a hard-hitting rendition of ‘In The Shadows’. But it’s the more recent songs that draw the biggest response, most notably the superb 2017 single ‘Do It’. Making an appearance only five songs in, it’s possible Morris peaks a little too early, playing her trump card long before its due. But the timing is ultimately unimportant, Morris inspiring a mass sing-along as she bops across the stage, emitting an irresistible optimism as she does.
It’s precisely this optimism that makes Morris such an endearing presence. She has all the infectious enthusiasm of a new primary school teacher, giddy and excited, jumping around like a nimble water sprite as she powers through ‘Dip My Toe’ and showing off enviable dexterity during ‘Dancing with Character’. It’s a good job she’s come kitted out in her trademark activewear, then: trackie bottoms paired with a sports bra and transparent top – a unique look, to say the least. Despite a fairly small stage, Morris makes good use of the space, though one can’t help but wonder how much energy she’d bring to a stage twice as big, giving her room to pirouette and somersault as much as her heart desires.
Having concluded her main set with the sprightly ‘Atletico (The Only One)’, Morris returns to play ‘Lower The Tone‘, perhaps the best track from her latest album. Morris’ enthusiasm is thrust back at her, the Brighton crowd full of energy despite it being a Sunday night. Ending the show with ‘Someone Out There’, Morris glows as she sings her new single, a track at least part-inspired by her native Blackpool. “You know I’m from Blackpool?” she asks, half sarcastically. “I talk about it enough.”
Once the show has finished, Morris hangs out by the Blackpool scarves sold at the merch stand, signing CDs and chatting to fans. Along with the irresistible tunes, it’s this modesty that makes her such a likeable pop star. Let’s hope she stays so grounded when she’s playing venues twice this size, because surely it’s only a matter of time.