Corinne Bailey Rae lights up the Royal Festival Hall with inescapable warmth

The singer-songwriter was all smiles on the Southbank for the London date of her Sunlight/Sunlight! tour

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For all its admirably eclectic curation, there’s still a solemn sense of majesty to the Royal Festival Hall that sits proudly on London’s Southbank. But from the start of her performance yesterday evening, Corinne Bailey Rae washed away any formality as she sang with open arms, smiled warmly at latecomers and increasingly beckoned a call-and response from those seated in front of her.

“Wow, every one of you can sing”, she marvels to herself after an impressively smooth bit of audience participation on ‘Green Aphrodisiac’. At another point, having already revealed her favourite cities on ‘Paris Nights/New York Mornings’, she’s in the crowd to find out where we’re from, which turns out to be from everywhere from Thailand to Skegness.

With her crowd soon at ease and together, it’s evident that her followers differ not just in nationality, with middle-aged men in suits sitting happily next to groups of friends in their 20s who enjoy the likes of ‘Trouble Sleeping’ as though it came out yesterday and not 16 years ago.

Her band do well to help gel Rae’s career that sweeps elements of soul, jazz, gospel and acoustic pop into a coherent whole, and add a little zhuzh with a solo here and there. Her husband and keyboardist Steve Brown’s are rhythmic and understated, whilst guitarist John McCallum’s vocoder solo and Mikey Wilson’s frantic drumming style demand a moment of their own.

“The heart speaks in whispers”, Rae sings as she returns for an encore of ‘The Skies Will Break’, and it’s true that her effortlessly unfaltering voice is most in focus in the quiet moments of the evening — not least when she steps away from the mic after a song or two and lets the acoustics of the Hall work its magic. But they only make the heart shout louder in the evenings most celebratory moments, from the inevitable glee of ‘Put Your Records On’ to the discofied, upstanding closer.

Corinne Bailey Rae is touring throughout April and May. Tickets are available here.