Emeli Sande + support Ray BLK | Review

Emeli Sande + support Ray BLK | Review

CHSQ, Belfast • 16 August 2017

By Chantelle Frampton • Photography: Tremaine Gregg

We were treated to Emeli Sande at the CHSQ stage on Wednesday night; demonstrating to her fans why she continues to be one of the biggest names in the music business. The Scottish singer/songwriter has achieved remarkable success over the past few years and the release of her second album Long Live the Angels has only reaffirmed this. Her set in Belfast allowed her fans to see her up close and personal, and experience a night to be remembered.

The night started with Rita Ekwere, familiarly known by stage name Ray BLK. The South London singer delivered her alternative RnB style to Belfast, wowing us from the get go. Whilst the crowd reception was modest initially, Ray later in the set went onto comment ‘Oh you’re awake now’; reflecting the changing energy levels.

Opening up with a monologue, Ray explained the concept behind her music, outlining the need to “unite together”. Digesting the small speech, Ray busrt onto the stage in her unmissable bright orange top as she went into set, breaking into an array of tracks including ‘Baby Girlz’, ‘Hunny’, ‘Chill Out’ and arguably her most recognisable number ‘My Hood’ (originally sang with Stormzy). The personal highlight was her cover of ‘Killing Me Softly’; she made this iconic song her own.

Ray BLK’s  enhanced audience interaction, frequently detailing her songs background before performing them; as well as expressing her gratitude at playing for us in Belfast. The set ended in a somewhat unusual way, with Ray openly expressing her love for her accompanying band; she left the stage and allowed the band to have their solo segment before leaving. It was refreshing to see a solo singer show so much appreciation for the fellow musicians.

Ray and her band left the stage the heavens opened, soaking everyone to the bone. It’s time’s like this you see people’s dedication to music as the beer kept flowing and conversations were rife; a little bit of rain wasn’t going to ruin Emeli Sande for them.

After a slightly prolonged interval, it was Emeli Sande’s time on stage. Her entrance signified by smoke appearing onset with an accompanied drum beat, whilst the rest of the band kicked of into the opening song. She danced onto the stage belting out ‘Heaven’, her critically acclaimed track from her 2012 album Our Version of Events. The stage aesthetic at this point was very impressive as the lights were reminiscent of a scene from the film Dream Girls. The production team did not skimp on the set that accompanied Emelie’s fabulous voice.

Emile immediately thanked the people of Belfast for coming out, explaining she had been in Belfast for two days and it was amazing (it’s always warming when someone admires your city). She then went into her track ‘Wonder’ and ‘Love Me More’. Her stage presence was captivating for the duration of the set.

The setlist included tracks both old and new; including ‘It Hurts’, ‘My Kind of Love’ and ‘Breathing Underwater’. Emeli was very focused on ensuring she interacted with her fans; detailing her favourite songs to perform live and explained scenarios she has facedin fighting to keep songs on her albums. One of which was the beautiful ballad ‘Climb’; in which she opted to perform this sitting at a piano as she played along.

There was a lot of  love and emotion in Emeli Sande’s performance. With her impeccable voice, Emile remained fully connected with her songs and it was dazzling to watch.  She wasn’t just singing for the crowd; but also herself and past experiences.

Emile went on to cover Janis Joplin’s ‘Piece of my Heart’ as an homage to one of her favourite artists. It was a pleasant way to break up the setlist; it also allowed us to see how she can cover a song and make it her own as opposed to a direct copy.

Despite the regular showers and consequential wet socks, Ray BLK’s and Emeli Sande’s flawless talent ensured the night was one to remember success, reaffirming to the crowd the reason they are headlining in the CHSQ festival. The energy levels of the people leaving Custom House Square was of marvel and a testament to the outstanding gig.  The show reaffirming Belfast’s delivery of awesome summer festivals.

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