The British singer Raye’s “My 21st Century Blues World Tour” stopped in Pomona at the Glass House on Monday night.
As the crowd rolled in, jazz music played in the background, giving a preview of the evening’s performance.
The show began at 8 p.m. with Raye’s little sister Absolutely opening the show. She teased music from her upcoming album “Cerebum” to be released next month. Absolutely expressed how she is more introverted and wore sunglasses while singing “MIA” to go back into her bubble. The 19-year-old impressed her older sister’s fans.
The stage was set with a large vinyl record, accompanied by the band in black tie attire. Along with the average band set up with drums, guitar, bass, and a keyboardist. The brass trumpet and woodwind saxophonist added a unique touch to the live performance enhancing the blues and jazz sound of Raye’s music.
With a crowd of about 500 people, it was an intimate cabaret style evening, especially with Raye’s personable connection with the audience. She talked to them and called upon them throughout the show, asking their names, followed by crowd applause. She emphasized the theme of the night – honesty – and gave her biggest piece of advice: do not date rappers.
The setlist featured songs from her debut album, “My 21st Century Blues.” She said the album was a long time coming, like a 10-year pregnancy.
Longtime fan Cesar Varela from Ontario said he appreciated her natural talent.
“It is the vocal range, control in her voice, and the strength,” Varela said. “The passion she has for artistry, the way she can do pop and jazz and everything in between. I have not seen it in an artist these days.”
Raye introduced every song, taking the time to describe the background to each.
A tissue box was placed on a stool adjacent to the lead microphone stand. Raye described her song, “Ice Cream Man” as the song that saved her life. With the empowering lyrics, tears were shared from the stage to the crowd, as the song discusses sexual assault.
Many of Raye’s songs have strong meanings and acknowledge real life issues. This is what draws some of her fans in.
Madison Holliday has been listening to Raye for the past three years. Holliday said she was inspired by Raye’s new album, as it was relatable yet brought joy.
“It made me feel connected to her, and it made me feel empowered as a woman,” Holliday said. “Because we do not really have a voice and it is important to show that we can stick up for ourselves.”
Before singing “Body Dysmorphia,” Raye wanted to emphasize the importance of self love and care during this social media era.
“Everyone here can do without. The effect is happening on body positivity, and self love and feeling good enough or feeling like you are doing enough,” Raye said. “It is okay. It is even deeper still that moment when it is just you staring in a mirror and you have to look in the mirror and be happy with what you see.”
Unlike the recorded track, the song began with a little girl’s voice, talking about when she grows up, but the little girl is asking to be skinny, to get a nose job, to grow up pretty.
It became more than a lyric but a universal message and understanding, bringing the room to tears in empathy.
Sending her band on a break, Raye took to the keyboard by herself, taking song requests from fans.
Rachel Taylor came alone to the concert but quickly found women in the crowd who were also solo. They spent the whole evening together, dancing and singing.
“I am in the same kind of era as the album so it just resonated with me,” Taylor said.
Dividing the crowd into thirds, Raye taught sections how to harmonize, adding it to her performance of “Buss it Down.”
Coming back for an encore, Raye finished with her song “Escapism,” one of her most popular on Spotify.
“I love her dynamic on stage,” fan Adel Guzman said. “It’s always unexpected.”
Sheridan Lambrook can be reached at email@example.com.