May 1, 2014
Wilton’s Music Hall, or ‘The City’s Hidden Stage’ is the world’s oldest surviving music hall, and it really is well and truly tucked away. Down a tiny street in East London, its peeling façade and window boxes full of geraniums make it look as though it’s somewhere in continental Europe rather than just off Commercial Road. Inside there are rooms which range from bar to library, and the auditorium is furnished with a balcony and pews, giving it a churchlike feel. This is added to by the high ceilings, which in the smoky stage lighting look almost non-existent, the dark walls sloping up endlessly behind the performers on the stage.
The first of these performers is The Half Earth (Morris’ cousin Conor Stephenson), who has obviously inherited the same musical genes as her – his ethereal sound, just him and his guitar (along with some pedals and computer gadgetry), fills the space in a magical way. Supporting an act with such a dedicated fan base can be tough, but Stephenson proved that he was there not just as a relative but as a talented musician in his own right.
The second, of course, is Rae Morris herself, who walks onto stage with her band, sits down at that classic foldaway piano and after just a smile at the audience launches immediately into Grow, the title track of her first EP. Perhaps it’s because of the band surrounding her on stage, or perhaps it’s because of the radio play and the extensive touring she’s been doing over the past few months, but whatever it is, Rae Morris has grown in confidence and seems grounded and assured on the stage, whilst still managing to convey how grateful she is to be there. This sold out London show marks a turning point in Morris’ career; from recording in her parents’ shed in Blackpool to recording her debut album in LA with Ariel Rechtshaid, who has produced the likes of Haim and Vampire Weekend.
Morris played a combination of new songs from the upcoming album alongside tracks from her three EPs, segueing from the newer, more upbeat tracks such as Unguarded into old favourites like Don’t Go, which reduced unsuspecting members of the audience to tears. From opener Grow, she worked her way through to Do You Even Know?, a brand new track which will be released on the 6th May as an EP. For the encore, she played Not Knowing completely solo, to be joined again by her band for the final song. A particularly exciting addition to this band was drummer Daisy Palmer, who pulled off the impressive feat of simultaneously playing drums and singing, providing gorgeous harmonies. Post-show, Rae was as friendly as ever, staying to talk to the considerably lengthy queue of fans clutching posters and EPs for her to sign. Despite the size of the crowd, the show still felt intimate, and Rae Morris certainly did the spectacular venue justice.
Way Back When
Oldest of New
Do You Even Know?