It seemed odd that two-time Grammy winner Corinne Bailey Rae was placed in the relatively tight quarters of the Tito’s Tent at the Austin City Limits Music Festival. No surprise, then, when the crowd that showed up extended well beyond the covered space on all sides — a fitting metaphor, in some respects, for the way Rae’s music overflows even a big-tent approach to genre classification.
Combining elements of pop, jazz, R&B, folk, funk and more, Rae and her impressive four-piece band delighted those who managed to find a spot in view of the stage. Dressed in radiant green velvet, Rae alternated between acoustic and electric guitar, sometimes simply singing and grooving to the sounds.
Many in the crowd did the same as Rae served up old favorites such as “Breathless” and “Put Your Records On,” from her self-titled 2006 debut disc, alongside selections from 2016’s “The Heart Speaks in Whispers,” her first album in six years.
The best from that strong lot of new tunes was the set-closing “The Skies Will Break,” a beautifully uplifting number that she stretched out at the end to allow her drummer, guitarist, keyboardist and bassist/keyboardist to have a moment in the spotlight. Arms reaching for the sky and with a smile that could outshine the sun that was settling on horizon as she played, Rae was a delight to watch, hear and experience.
For some of her Austin fans, the performance might have been their second Rae fix in less than a week. “I was going to say it’s been a long time since we’ve been in Austin, but we were here just a week ago, opening up for Alabama Shakes” at the Austin360 Amphitheater, she noted, later asking if some folks would be back for the second weekend of ACL Fest. When many folks responded affirmatively, she suggested “we’ll switch the set list up for you guys” next Friday.