Raye @ XOYO 9th February 2017

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Three years ago I posted an article displaying my tips for 2015. Someone that caught my attention was Rachel Keen, this R&B singer/ songwriter inked her record deal with Warner/ Chapell at the age of 17. Also her first offering Welcome To The Winter was a majestical effort which included the likes of Hotbox, WT2W, Bad Faith, Need Me, Bet U Wish and Just Like That. I remember that she was on my to see list at 2015’s installment of The Great Escape but I experienced the nightmare of gig clash.

Two years later I was to attend my first Raye show. This impeccable sold out event took place at XOYO and it was an evening I’ll always remember. Keen literally has the world at her feet, not only has she featured on Jax Jones’s track You Don’t Know Me but Charli XCX even directed the music video for I, You, Us.

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Once inside the audience were treated to an energetic set by Danish band Off Bloom. Then at 9.15pm Raye then graced the small stage. The set list consisted of new cuts, a flawless cover and then you had material from both the Welcome To The Winter and Second EP’s. Things then kicked off with Shhh which features on the sophomore EP Second. All I can say about this formidable cut is WOW. Shhh was extremely energetic and Raye’s stunning vocals packed a fierce punch. I would go as far to say it was a mixture of R&B meets rap which then resulted in this sparkling track. Anyhow this was an infectious number which had me hooked from the word go “You can leave, you can leave, I don’t want you to speak/ So why you here in my ear?/ Talkin’, talkin’ to me”. Seriously this girl has a set of lungs on her.

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“Can I just say I was crying backstage coz I saw a video of you guys all queuing up” Raye humbly said before embarking onto upbeat Distraction. Now Rachel took everyone on a tour of London, she started off in the South then moved to the East then ended in the North. Anyhow this was a glittering song aided by catchy lyrics and Keen’s perfect velvety smooth vocals which oozed plenty of sass. “How we feeling tonight guys? So at my last show I didn’t stop and drink any water” Rachel mentioned to the audience before revealing that her manager had instructed her to drink after every 2 tunes. Well it was then time for something brand spanking new and this coming in the form of My Girl which was about Keen’s best friend. This was literally a breath of fresh air, My Girl was a sleek R&B jam aided by beautiful lyrics which had me hooked. Now the punchy chorus easily had me moving on the spot. I literally cannot wait for the studio version because this song was INCREDIBLE. “This next one you might know” Raye mentioned before launching into the number which put her on the map. This coming in the form of By Your Side and this was a Jonas Blue cut which Raye featured on. “I want you all to sing along” Rachel said before launching into this sumptuous song. Anyhow By Your Side started off extremely sleek and as it progressed the more funky it became. Those tasty lyrics left me enthralled and the melody transformed this tune into one massive dance anthem. Once over it was then onto an oldie which Rachel wrote when she was 15 years old. This came in the form of Hotbox and it featured on the debut EP Welcome To The Winter. Anyhow this was a mellowing cut aided by Keen’s smooth like butter vocal tones. In fact this was a slick R&B cut which left me hypnotised. Chills actually went up my spine. When the song approached its end Raye literally gave it her all, her vocal tones emitted so much power.

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Rachel Keen then moved over to the keyboard. “This song is quite sad and quite emotional. I never played it to anyone before” Keen then said to the gathered audience before getting stuck into Sober. Now this was a whimsical cut which Raye delivered to perfection. Sober was a steady paced gentle ballad which resulted in something rather spellbinding. I have to say that this entrancing cut had to be my highlight of the evening. Raye then got off the keyboard and attempted to cover Daniel Beddingfield’s song Gotta Get Thru This. Now Rachel delivered this to perfection, Gotta Get Thru This was a fast paced jam which easily had me moving. Keen literally put every ounce of energy into this sterling rendition. Following on was yet another newie and this came in the form of The Line. This impeccable cut was a high octane rollercoaster ride and Rachel delivered it with plenty of gusto. Her vocals were sugary sweet and rap esque which left me in a daze. Infused to the ending of The Line you then had yet another oldie and this coming in the form of Bet You Wish. This steady paced number was a cross between R&B meets pop. The lyrics were sheer perfection leaving me completely hooked and Keen’s power house vocal delivery knocked me for six.

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After it was onto You Don’t Know Me which is a Jax Jones tune which Raye featured on. All I can say about this cut is WOW. Keen put in a sterling performance, her vocals were so sensational and those catchy lyrics certainly captivated me. This cut has club anthem written all over it.

Things then concluded with epic I, You, Us. Now this was a complete belter, those vivacious verses were incredibly upbeat and then you had the smooth chorus which left me entranced “I, You, Us/ Never, never, never again”. The fact the whole audience sang along to the chorus did result in something rather magical.

SET LIST

Shhh
Distraction
My Girl
By Your Side
Hotbox
Sober
Gotta Get Thru This
The Line
Bet You Wish
You Don’t Know Me
I, You, Us

OVERALL: Croydon’s very own Rachel Keen has something extremely special, having attended this impeccable sold at show at XOYO I can tell she’ll be massive before 2017 ends. This girl seriously has bundles of talent, her vocals are a force to be reckoned with and her song writing skills are literally on point.

The tunes Raye performed were real gems, it was a pleasure to witness material from EP’s Welcome To The Winter and Second live but my highlights had to be the new songs. These being My Girl and Sober, both of these were insatiable numbers which have me relishing the debut Raye album. Also her take on Gotta Get Thru This was sublime plus she even incorporated a verse of Rae Sremmurd’s viral hit Black Beatles. Rachel’s latest single I, You, Us was the icing on the cake and this number rounded off a truly spellbinding evening.

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