Raye lights up Radio 1 festival’s main stage in Luton

A singer who fought the system and won, getting to play on a stage, and a scale, she’d always dreamt of.

“I didn’t think I was ready,” she admitted towards the end of the set.

The crowd weren’t having a bit of it.

Raye’s readiness was most apparent in a mid-set medley of Bed and You Don’t Know Me – two songs she’s previously dismissed as the sound of a writer going through the motions.

Here, they were re-imagined as big band numbers, full of funk licks and scat jazz singing.

And frankly, they sounded better in that arrangement.

No matter what genre Raye touched on – from the Ibiza dance grooves of Black Mascara to the achingly personal piano ballad Ice Cream Man – she seemed to be lost in, and consumed by, the music.

And with a tightly-rehearsed band, she could allow the songs to breathe when it felt right.

“Another 16,” she told the band as Tom Richardson played a sax solo on Worth It, giving him a few extra bars to lean into the groove.

Too often, you see headliners who are in the middle of a tour, turning up at a festival and going through the motions – playing to a click track, sticking rigidly to the setlist, giving the same patter between songs. Not here. Not tonight.

Raye’s Big Weekend set was a one-off.

A bit like the woman herself.

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