Raleigh Ritchie is a storyteller.
With his words, his body and the sounds that flow through him, Raleigh invites us into his world and to partake in his experiences, creating a safe and warm space where people can be themselves and relax into the smooth and comforting vocals of the young Bristol crooner.
The evening began with Stronger Than Ever, an internal struggle of self-worth, determination and crumbling confidence in the face of ambition. It was an explosive beginning for an explosive evening, the passion and energy pouring out from Raleigh and the band putting expectations high from the outset.
We weren’t left disappointed.
It had been 18 months since Raleigh had last taken to the live stage for UK audiences, and there was clearly a sense of trepidation coming from the artist, but any nerves or concern were soon washed away as the crowd echoed back every word of Werld Is Mine, On Fire and Cowards, each with more intensity than the last.
This was a room of people who loved and even depended upon the music that was surrounding us, providing a warm welcome back to touring for Raleigh and his band, who matched the vivacious energy of the Academy 2 with each and every note. It felt like a gathering of friends for the greatest karaoke session of all time, unfaltering as we spat back words like Maybe I’m Just Sick from Sicko, our own existential dread through You’re a Man Now, Boy and the rousing introspective chorus of Me, Myself and I.
B-sides like Liability, Stay Inside and Overdose proved to be some of the most popular, the audience dancing and singing with sheer joy emblazoned on their faces. building up to a cathartic end with Bloodsport, screaming out all the frustrations of toxic relationships and emotional turmoil to a room awash with red lights.
As Bloodsport came to a close, the lights dimmed and Raleigh walked off – but we weren’t done. Within seconds a chorus of ‘we want more’ was ringing out from the crowd, loud and unwavering, and thankfully it didn’t take him too long to answer us.
The familiar chords of Time in a Tree, the first track from Raleigh’s new album cycle, quietened the audience, softening our cries for a thoughtful few minutes of self-reflection before ending on the rousing sounds of The Greatest, getting the entire room on their feet bouncing away to mistakes best made young and misadventures that’ll never be forgotten.
Everyone sees something of themselves within Raleigh Ritchie’s music, whether it’s the nolstalgia for a childhood that passed us by or the inner battle with self and mental health, but for that hour everyone was able to let go of whatever emotional baggage it was they brought with them and just enjoy. Raleigh connected with every person in that room and made us feel appreciated and safe, and it was good to see that we gave that love right back to Mr. Ritchie himself.
Raleigh Ritchie continues on tour with a show tonight in Birmingham, carrying on to Brighton, London, Bristol and Nottingham. It’s a show you absolutely don’t want to miss out on, so grab tickets while you can below.