The sun had long gone over the yardarm by the time RAYE’s took her turn on Glastonbury Festival’s famous Pyramid Stage. Saturday saw temperatures pushing 30 degrees Celsius with the crowd already suitably warmed up from Rick Astley’s rousing midday set.
Raye @ Glastonbury Festival 2023
The 25-year-old London artist began her career in 2014 at the age of 17 with her EP Welcome To The Winter and has since collaborated with various artists, such as Stormzy, Mabel, and David Guetta. Her debut album My 21st Century Blues was released earlier this year, just in time for fans to fall in love with it before RAYE began her UK and European festival campaign.
Wearing a floor-length black dress, she perfectly contrasted herself against the backdrop of her band in all-white. They all looked very glamorous on the Pyramid Stage.
She opened her set with Oscar Winning Tears, the second track on her album about learning from bad relationships, emotional abuse, and becoming a stronger person. Within just a few minutes, she kicked off her high heels, setting her feet free.
With a trembling voice she introduced herself and expressed disbelief over people turning up to see her perform, before sharing personal advice not to date rappers. She continued her energetic set with The Thrill Is Gone and spoke openly about sexual violence and shared with the audience her own vulnerability, welcoming them into her personal life. With her sincere openness and honesty, she wasn’t afraid to ‘bring the mood down’ with Ice Cream Man and the crowd appreciated her for it. She closed her set with Escapism, the most popular song from her album by far, after a sing-along cover of You Don’t Know Me. RAYE’s set felt undeservedly short, but I have a feeling she’ll be back next time with a prime slot and an even bigger crowd.
For me, she’s the one of the very few artists since Amy Winehouse to truly stand out in a crowded world of pop music, with superb songwriting and emotive live performances. RAYE blends pop, jazz, R&B and blues to create perfect harmonies and feel-good songs, even when her lyrics seem so deep. At one point she told the crowd that “screaming down the microphone is one of her favorite things to do in the world”. Her debut Glastonbury performance proved that she’s incredibly good at it too.
Review by Dnieper Cruz and photos by Kalpesh Patel at Glastonbury Festival 2023.