Gig Review: Raye at Rough Trade

Words: Gemma Cockrell
Photos: Jade Vowles
Tuesday 07 February 2023
reading time: min, words

Raye visited Rough Trade to perform songs from her debut album My 21st Century Blues...


Seeing Raye perform in a venue as intimate as Rough Trade felt like a treat that I would probably never get to experience again. Having seen her support Lewis Capaldi at Motorpoint Arena just over a week ago, I was aware of how immensely talented she is, and I had a vague idea of what to expect from the evening ahead.

I was stood towards the back of Rough Trade, and being only a mere 5’2”, I will admit that I couldn’t see an awful lot throughout the show – so it’s a good job that Raye’s vocals did all of the talking. The acoustic set was made up of seven songs from her recently released debut album My 21st Century Blues, starting with The Thrill Is Gone and Black Mascara.


The show had quite a casual feel to it, with Raye telling the crowd that she didn’t like things to be too over-rehearsed or perfect. When the audience was given the opportunity to decide which song was to be performed, they favoured Buss It Down over Worth It, and even though either would have been a great choice, the former had the edge due to the opportunity for audience participation in the choir sections of the song.

Next, the audience requested Flip A Switch, a song that Raye admitted she hadn’t actually rehearsed prior to the show. However, that didn't stop her giving the crowd what they wanted. We got to witness her teach Adam, her guitarist, the chords to the song on stage. He caught on very quickly, and the lack of rehearsal wasn’t noticeable as Raye rapped along to the verses of the song.


Raye’s vocal ability shone on the tracks Oscar Winning Tears and Ice Cream Man, the latter of which is a raw and touching song with lyrics about sexual assault and sexual violence. It definitely resonated with the audience, as her cries of the lyric “I'm a woman, I'm a very fucking brave, strong woman” created a heartfelt moment of support and unity for all.

Of course, she closed the set with Escapism – her most popular track, having gone viral on TikTok before reaching number one in the UK singles chart. The crowd knew every single word, with Raye coining us the ‘Nottingham choir’ as we sang along at such a volume that her own voice was almost drowned out.


Afterwards, Raye took the time to meet every single person who attended the show. It was clear how grateful she was to have reached this point in her career, after the journey she has been on, and she made sure to have in-depth conversations with each and every one of her fans who had bought tickets to see her perform.

I have no doubt that if I ever do get to see Raye live again (which I hope I do) it will be in a much larger venue, as her popularity looks set to continue to rise from here. But I know that no matter what, she will always put on a brilliant performance. Her incredible success story is one that is truly worth following, and I can't wait to see what she does next.

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