Live Review: Rianne Downey – Oporto, Leeds. 19.03.23

Scottish singer-songwriter Rianne Downey enchanted a sold out Oporto in Leeds last night with her intricately crafted songbook and sweet but confident performance.

Downey’s music draws on a wide variety of influences – at once conjuring up the sounds of Amy Winehouse, Fleetwood Mac, as well as the likes of Flyte and Taylor Swift. It makes for an entertaining and always engaging dozen songs which show the strength of her craft and the power of her music, impressively brought to life by band Nathaniel Laurence (guitar, keys), Sam Topping (bass) and Phil Murphy (drums).

You can see clearly the benefit of a summer of festival stage appearances, as Downey can capture the audience and draw them into her world. The quality of the performance is excellent, sometimes playing guitar, other times singing at the mic, expressively moving through the songs in an outfit that, when arms outstretched, created an angelic silhouette and a sense of drama, wings reminiscent of the classic Freddie Mercury-Zandra Rhodes look of the mid-70s.

Standout moments come in the shape of Songbird – which will be Downey’s next single, out on Wednesday 22 March – written for her granny, but no doubt inspired by the late Christine McVie and the tattoo on the inside of Downey’s right wrist. Murphy’s drumming on this was so powerful, it carried the room to a different plane, just ahead of the final 3 songs. Home – her ode to Scotland, but with an eye to bigger things beyond the horizon – was sung back so loudly by the audience, that she could have sat back and just allowed the room to take it on for her.

Nothing came close though to new song, Method in my Madness. With just Laurence on keys to accompany, it was theatrical, cinematic in its scope all thanks to the soaring vocal that had the audience transfixed throughout. There was a momentary pause as the room collectively processed the power of the music before a rapturous applause that outlasted that for any other song in the set.

Rianne Downey is ascending right now, and if you can get a ticket for this tour, which are fast becoming like hen’s teeth, you’ll count yourself very lucky you got to see her in such an intimate setting.

The tour continues tonight at The Grace in London, then to sold-out venues in Birmingham and Manchester, before a final homecoming in Glasgow at the legendary King Tuts on 24th March.

Previous Live Review: The Backseat Lovers / Junodream - O2 Kentish Town Forum, London 16.03.2023
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