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In concert: Corinne Bailey Rae at 9:30 club

corinne bailey raeCorrine Bailey Rae's performance at 9:30 club was more professional than cathartic. (All photos by Evy Mages/TWP)

By Mark Jenkins

Unlike most neo-soul divas, Corinne Bailey Rae writes her own material, plays electric guitar and seems fully in control of her music. Thursday at a sold-out 9:30 Club, the British musician performed a nearly two-hour set of 1970s-style soul, confidently leading a five-piece band that pitted two folk-rock guitarist-vocalists against a rhythm section and keyboardist who tended toward jazz.

Rae drew mostly from her latest album, "The Sea," which is easy-listening music with a hard-luck backstory. (Its songs were written after the sudden death of her husband.) Rae opened with the haunted "Are You Here," evoking loss without revealing great emotion. Perhaps the singer's mood was buoyed by the "secret reason" that will bring her back to town in three weeks, but the show was less cathartic than simply professional.

corinne bailey rae

While Rae didn't shortchange her darker songs, it seemed she'd already wrung the most intense feelings from them. She gave more to the upbeat material, from early hit "Put Your Records On" to the final encore of "Que Sera Sera," a bluesy recasting of the Doris Day hit. As she traded trills and riffs with singer-guitarist John Maccalum, Rae appeared to be feeling no pain.

The evening began with a half-hour set by Australian soul man Daniel Merriweather, whose smooth style was entirely compatible with Rae's. Between jazzy versions of the folk-blues "In the Pines" and Paul McCartney's "Maybe I'm Amazed," Merriweather repeatedly urged listeners to buy his album. He probably would have sold more copies if he'd replaced the mercenary stage patter with another tune.

corinne bailey rae

corinne bailey rae

corinne bailey rae

By David Malitz  |  May 14, 2010; 2:00 PM ET
Categories:  In concert  | Tags: Corrine Bailey Rae  
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I was at the 930 Club show last night. It was my first time seeing Corinne Bailey Rae live and she did not disappoint at all. The crowd totally connected with her and she seemed to be genuinely touched and pleased by the warm supportive reception the DC crowd showed her. Danny Merriweather was a nice complimentary opening act. I wasn't familiar with him but he showed why there may be a bright future awaiting him. Dude is pretty good.

Posted by: twilson66 | May 15, 2010 12:05 AM | Report abuse

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