Review: Rita Payne at The Greystones

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Rita Payne’s star is certainly in the ascendency. The South Yorkshire duo, whose harmonies are so tight you couldn’t get a cigarette paper between them, are building quite a following.

So much so that it was standing room only at The Greystones for their first headline slot.

“This is, by far and away, the most special night of our lives,“ said singer Pete Sowerby.

That’s some pressure to deal with and hefty nerves to overcome. Both hurdles were cleared, with distance to spare, on a night of established material, showcased new songs and the odd cover.

Lindsey’s Buckingham’s Big Love sat alongside their own highlights Jeremiah and Family Ramble.

There was a peculiar version of Michael Jackson’s Billie Jean, performed as a lilting ballad, fully stripped back to a fragile beauty at the song’s heart.

Rita Payne are greater than the sum of their parts and soaring voices will always dominate proceedings.

However, Rhiannon Scutt’s guitar accomplishment should not be overlooked.

Additional musicians augmented the stage towards the end, a sure signpost towards a path of further musical development.

The hoedown finale was a singalong of Dylan’s obscure Rock Me Mama, where punters and act joined as one.

It was a significant moment and by this time any nerves had long since been banished.

Perhaps audiences should cherish these intimate gigs.

More extensive arrangements plus a little more stage polish and such close relationships could well become a thing of the past.