RALEIGH Ritchie brought his UK tour to a close last night at Manchester’s Club Academy on Oxford Road. The evening had everything from flying clothes to fan feuds and Quays News reporter Nathan Salt was amongst the sell-out crowd…
To some, Ritchie is no more than a Game of Thrones star. To others he’s a lyrical genius, delivering poetic melodies in his own unique rap style. After releasing his debut album ‘You’re A Man Now, Boy’ earlier this year, Grey Worm – his character name in GoT – treated fans to a sensationally energetic, at times chaotic, performance of tracks old and new.
Raye, an 18-year-old vocalist, from London was his support for the evening and she had the look of a young Izzy Bizu but with the sass of RnB icon Rihanna. A stage set-up with her crystallised microphone ensured the stage was set for the youngster to dazzle, much like Mahalia did when she supported Kwabs at the same venue.
Cramming eight tracks into her 30-minute slot, Raye blessed the crowd with tracks such as ‘Tell Me’ and ‘Alien’ before launching into a song off her upcoming EP, ‘I U Us’. The track allowed the teenager to wag her finger and wear an expression no man in her life would ever want to receive. The girls in the room – particularly those with relatable scenarios really channelled Raye’s lyrics and this track proved an overwhelming success lyrically.
Massive love to @Raye and band for holding it down & kicking the night off beautifully, you are amazing. It was an honour having you with us
— Raleigh Ritchie (@RaleighRitchie) April 29, 2016
With the added beneficiary of chatting to Raye before the show, it was clear she has ambition in abundance. But, crucially, she has the voice and overall talent to match her goals and dreams.
‘Distraction’ brought her set to an end – a slot that really did seem to fly by. And Raye has easily fulfilled her role as the warm-up with her blended vocal of pop, electronic and RnB – all of which combined to make a real blessing on the crowd’s ears. With an EP out in May and a debut album already mooted, the journey is only just beginning for Raye.
But, the room was sold out for one man, and that man was Mr. Raleigh Ritchie. A shy, almost awkward character beforehand in the dressing room, he burst onto the stage like a different man entirely. Leaping onto the stage to open with ‘Werld Is Mine’ was a smart move as he showcased his intensity – something he maintained ferociously throughout – early on.
Raleigh comes alive in a live environment; the fans get that added extra that they don’t get on a record – even if they went deluxe! Gritty, almost remnants of grime, Grey Worm proved more like Tigger as he bounced uncontrollably during ‘Cowards’, a track from his debut album.
Then, as he began to work his way into ‘I Can Change’ a fight between two females – adjacent to Quays News – began to take hold as emotions clearly spilt over. Rather than ignore the animosity in front of him, Ritchie stopped the song to swiftly break up the feuding pair and declared, “Manchester, we are all friends here tonight”, a statement that generated huge cheers (as the two girls were ultimately removed by security staff).
It was a set that catered to fans old and new with ‘The Chased’ and ‘Stay Inside’ an illustration that Richie remembers how this musical journey all began years ago.
His enthusiasm and love for his craft was infectious; and many in the room were quite taken aback on the more emotional numbers with one particular girl wiping away the tears during his rendition of ‘Last Romance’.
Just when it appeared this night had taken all it’s twists and turns, loops and drops, Raleigh asked the crowd to get their torch lights out and raise them in a moment of respect for Prince and David Bowie – two key influencers for Ritchie. It was a touching small tribute to the pair but many were utterly impressed that it was incorporated into proceedings.
A 14-song set list spoilt fans with well over an hour of his talent but song 12 saw the London-born vocalist take it up a whole new level. As ‘Keep It Simple’ entered an instrumental, Ritchie jumped off stage, ran around the barrier and immersed himself deep into the crowd to dance with them.
Here was a man that simply saw himself as no more than a talented fan; Ritchie is the opposite to the fame hungry and he appeared content to be that ordinary guy who people watch and like.
— Anne (@annedeaville1) April 30, 2016
— Amy Lynn (@Aiime) April 30, 2016
‘Bloodsport’ – his most recent single from the album – ended his original set before a two-song encore of ‘Stronger Than Ever’ and ‘The Greatest’ ensured Manchester (and the tour as a whole) went out with a bang.
Honest. Relatable. And ultimately performed in a captivating way. Raleigh Ritchie has the talent to go on from here. Ensure a mainstay place in the charts and then it’s on to global success – something that clearly drove Raye more than Raleigh. With a second album mooted behind close doors, Manchester’s Ritchie fans will be hoping it’s not long until he returns to this amazing musical city…
By Nathan Salt