Corrine Bailey Rae’s CD/DVD set Live in London & New York is an interesting example of how crowds can really make or break a show. Both the DVD (a concert in London) and the CD (a concert in New York) feature the same setlist — the entirety of Rae’s debut album along with a jazzy version of Led Zeppelin’s “Since I’ve Been Loving You” — and, essentially, the same music The London show has a prominent string section in addition to the Rae’s regular band, but the shows have a completely different feel.
The one defining difference is the audience. In London, the crowd is seated at small tables, drinking beers, and listening intently. In New York, the crowd reacts to everything Rae says by way of introducing her songs; when she says the title of the next song she’s going to perform, for example, the audience hoots and hollers in recognition and anticipation. In London, conversely, they only clap and react at the end of a song or when instructed, like when Rae acknowledges her string section and asks the crowd to applaud them with her. The result is a sleepy show in London redeemed only by Rae’s excellent voice and skilled band and an immensely listenable concert in New York that bristles with energy.
Along with the audience comparisons, both performances allow for another interesting examination: that of Rae herself. During both sets, she gives the same anecdotes about how a song was written before said songs. Rae does this too much, falling into the singer-songwriter trap of over-explaining the music rather than letting it speak for itself. Given Rae’s distinct voice and solid songwriting, the less explanation she gives, the better: it slows down the pace of the concert. As her song selection grows with her career, this problem will certainly work itself out and allow for her to craft more individual performances than the somewhat homogeneous ones on this set.
That said, this is an excellent package. The CD side sounds great, and it is what it is. But the DVD is stocked with some nice extras, including four music videos (“Put Your Records On,” “Trouble Sleeping,” “Like a Star,” and “I’d Like To”) and an 11-minute documentary about the London performance. The inclusion of both stereo and Dolby 5.1 Surround tracks is a nice touch, as well.
This set belongs in the music collection of Corrine Bailey Rae fans and newcomers to her music alike.