Sunday, 11 November 2012

Rachel Kaye at The Ale House, Leigh, November 10th 2012

The Ale House isn't the most obvious of live music venues, hidden away on a Leigh side street with bar prices that would have seemed cheap 20 years ago, but Rachel Kaye managed to make this one corner of the world her own on Saturday night with a blindingly brilliant solo set.

It can't be easy setting up your own audio gear with no time for a sound check, before launching straight into a series of spellbinding renditions of all-time great tracks - not to mention remembering to change out of your Uggs before you start singing.

For Rachel - who by her own admission had not had the best of days - the set-up looked almost effortless, the show began within minutes of her entering the building, and she was warming up the crowd literally within seconds of walking in.

A lesser talented performer might have struggled to compete with the dozen or so TV screens showing live darts, but Rachel's glittering personality, instant likeability and sheer strength of talent meant there was only ever going to be one star of the evening.

We were only able to stay for her first set of modern classics - and I'd love to have been able to stay for the second half of the show, when she'd promised to bring out some of the oldies - but that was still enough to recognise the brilliance of this young lady.

When, halfway through her first song, the guy sat next to me turned and mouthed "she's good", there wasn't much to do but nod in agreement.

My personal high point among what we saw was Rachel's Devlinesque rendition of Torn, into which she managed to inject more character and finesse than Natalie Imbruglia's original effort, without over-complicating what is a fairly sweet and simple track.

In a dirt-cheap side-street drinking hole, Rachel was every bit the glittering star, and well worthy of a much bigger stage - and I say good luck to her. Instantly likeable and enduringly memorable, look out for her in any given bar across the north-west on a weekend night, and know that, if you spot her, your luck's in.

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