Having seen Salford-born Ren Harvieu perform numerous times prior to this gig, I was sceptical as to whether she would fare well in a larger venue than her previous haunts – for example, Manchester’s Ruby Lounge – as I thought the intensity and intimacy of her previous shows could easily be lost to a larger space. As soon as the cool tranquillity of the piano/mirror ball entrance began, however, I knew I would be proven wrong.
The classy and sassy ‘Tonight’ proved a strong opening that led into the popular single ‘Through the Night’, after which she proceeded to wave to friends and family in the audience. It was at this point, when I glanced at the packed floor and balconies, I questioned whether the 22 year old quite realised the extent of her ever growing fame, and her humorous, almost awkward, stage demeanour instantly won her the hearts of her audience for the rest of the evening. The set continued with a masterful mix of soulful and jazzy numbers, heartbreaking confessionals and piano accompanied ballads. Then came her acclaimed cover of Roy Orbison’s ‘Crying’. The ethereal lighting and delayed, simplistic sound of keyboards filled the space, with her soaring yet stunningly delicate vocals intoxicating the room, reducing some audience members to tears of previously untapped sympathetic heartache.
The set finished with her album opener, ‘Open up Your Arms’, which was greeted with a torrent of cheers, claps and a thirst for more. Her impromptu encore, consisting of George Harrison’s infamous ‘Something’, wooed the majority, ending the evening with a good old fashioned sing-a-long. And so, after undoubtedly adding a touch of class to the Manchester music scene, this concert cemented Ren’s fans’ love for, and faith in, her refreshing musical style.