If there is one artist who we are always excited to see perform live, then that is Raleigh Ritchie. He delivers an experience like no other. With the tunes to take you through the motions, an energy set higher than the moon and a true down-to-earth personality that shines beautifully through his being. He is a true star and a special kind of artist. Taking some of the darkest spots in life and transforming them into the most stunning, relatable tunes. Each delivered by his first-class creative storytelling at the heart of it all. Now with his mega set of talents all loaded up, Raleigh—real name Jacob Anderson—has been hitting towns across the UK on tour this month, with Wednesday (28th November), being London’s turn to get a piece of the action at O2 Shepherd’s Bush Empire. And with support from Sasha Keable, warming us up with her rich, smokey tones; the night was every bit as brilliant as we’d hoped!
Raleigh Ritchie is a creative soul. It’s a trait that shines brightly through everything he does, even in the little touches. As the lights dimmed and a shade of darkness filled the venue, a grainy audio began to play out of a Space Shuttle Launch themed countdown, to signal his entrance. Screams and whistles stirred through the crowd, while others joined in on counting down the seconds in anticipation of his arrival. Raleigh entered, looking cool AF, wearing a spaceman helmet, as a nod to the design and vision attached to his new music. Slowly lifting it off and taking to the mic, he opened the night with the power-packed ‘Stronger Than Ever’, followed by the brilliant ‘Werld Is Mine’ and ‘Cowards’ from his incredible debut album. Instantly transporting us to his one-of-a-kind, music-crafted world.
Raleigh went on to perform the catchy ‘On Fire’, followed closely by ‘The River’ and his latest single ‘Me, Myself and I’. Giving us a taste of what’s to come from his forthcoming new album. “The second one is coming — I know I’ve been saying it for ages, but I’m like 8-9 songs in”, he assured us. For the next track, Raleigh encouraged his fans to let-go and lose themselves in the most animated dance they could render up for ‘Keep It Simple’. Causing a wave of movement to spread rapidly through the venue, as we channelled his on-stage energy for a set of dance moves of our own. The entire night had him darting around the stage, his feet barely keeping still. The man gave us his all, that’s for sure. Between the high-paced, energy-rising performances though, Raleigh always maintains a special interaction with his crowd. He has a unique ability of shrinking a large venue down, until it feels like an intimate setting. “For this song I want you to shout”, he called. Before powering through the brilliant ‘Sicko’, backed by the energy and vocals of the entire venue joining in with him. Before throwing it back to some older gems, as we were treated to performances of the amazing ‘Stay Inside’ and ‘Overdose’.
“If you’ve got a light on your phone, get it ready. If you’ve got a lighter, that also works, just don’t burn each other, please!”, he said, before going on to perform the title track of his debut album ‘You’re A Man Now, Boy’. As all the phone lights glistened around the venue, Raleigh compared the sight of it to stars, before taking a step back to take in the view. With that, a rich shade of red lighting flooded the stage, as he upped the tempo for the brilliant ‘Bloodsport’. The crowd echoing his vocals throughout, singing word-for-word the lyrics that he passionately delivered.
A shout-out to his band marked the end of his set, leaving every person in the room chanting for his return. And in true encore delight, that’s exactly what we got! Resuming positions, Raleigh and his band hit the spotlight once again. Opting for a performance of ‘Time In A Tree’ another new number and one of the more mellow tunes of his, before sending the energy alight again with ‘The Greatest’. We could feel the love he had for his London crowd, oozing from him. He had a smile beaming from ear-to-ear, as he thanked his fans for an incredible night. Reminding us that the experience wasn’t only enjoyed by those watching him, but by him watching us too! He jumped off stage to do a run of high-fives to every person standing in the front row. Before heading back up, placing his space helmet back on and walking off into the smoke behind him.
The high energy throughout the crowd roared from start to finish. Surprisingly peaking again at the end of the set, once Raleigh had already left the stage. The entire venue remained firmly in their positions, with the tune of his last performance still rumbling loudly through their vocals. The lights came on. The crowd continued to sing. Leading to one of the most special moments of the show, when Raleigh Ritchie—equipped with his epic space helmet—and his band, returned to their positions for an extra few seconds of song, as Raleigh joined his choir-of-fans into ‘The Greatest’ moment once more.
My adopted hometown, London. Filling my heart up with love and spirit. The end of the show was one of the best moments of my touring life. Thank you. You made a huge (beautiful) scary room into an intimate (still beautiful) happy place. Love. Tonight will stay in my heart 🙌🏽♥️
— Raleigh Ritchie (@RaleighRitchie) November 29, 2018
Words by Demi Leigh