With a mid-afternoon announcement that the concert was sold out, Birmingham’s Symphony Hall filled slowly for opening act Dan Layus.
The former Augustana frontman was joined by a violinist friend for an intimate, emotionally intense 30-minute set that showcased his distinctive vocal for his compelling compositions. Impressing with his insightful storyteller lyrics, his set easily drifts by and is warmly received as the audience filters in anticipating the evening’s big draw, LeAnn Rimes.
After a brief interval, the band took to the stage as the multi-million selling former country artist casually strolls across to arrive at her copper microphone. In an understated dark trouser, white blouse combo she immediately launches unaccompanied into Love Line from her sixteenth studio album, Remnants.The power and emotion of her vocal is truly captivating. It is immediately clear that this is going to be an evening to remember.
With no tricks pulled, the show is one that focuses solely on the musical dexterity of the artist centre stage. Accompanied by a four-piece band, the show exudes the sheer joy expressed in her latest record. With a truly humble LeAnn genuinely thanking the audience for their unswerving support over the 21 years of her recording career to date, they return their thanks with a series of respectful applause, whoops and whistles. Responding to every call-out from the audience, the show is one that demonstrates why unlike many of her contemporaries, LeAnn is still going strong.
As was no doubt expected, the shows centres on the truly sensational Remnants – a record that completed her transition from genre-defined artist to vocalist without restriction or needs for definition. With notable highlights including a spine-tingling Mother, during which even a pin drop could be heard and the anthemic Love Is Love Is Love, it is no surprise that many in the queue to purchase signed copies of the record after the show left empty handed.
While the realisation that LeAnn had just released the finest record of her career dawned on many, fans of her early years were rewarded with a moving reworking of her debut US number 1 One Way Ticket and a dance to her debut UK number 1 Can’t Fight The Moonlight. While the new material showed LeAnn should not just be remembered for How Do I Live, which felt like the evening’s weakest number, the audience were left craving other early hits including Commitment, which sadly despite an audience request was not delivered as it simply had not been rehearsed – which is more than reason enough.
Paying tribute to her British boys, a stripped back medley of duets she had recorded with Elton John, Ronan Keating and David Gray showcased the strength of the often overlooked collaborations she has enjoyed chart success within the UK, even if she missed Everybody’s Someone, her Brian McFadden duet, off the list.
Closing the show with a series of covers, most impressively a jaw-dropping take on R-E-S-P-E-C-T and mesmerising Hallelujah, the sheer joy in LeAnn’s performance proved infectious and it was clear she was moved by the standing ovation that she deservedly received. Without any need for special effects, dance routines or vocal trickery, LeAnn took her audience on a magical journey into her world and opened their eyes with her insightful lyrics and unforgettable vocal.
The set list:
Love Line (from Remnants, 2016/17)
Remnants (from Remnants, 2016/17)
One Way Ticket (Because I Care) (from Blue, 1996)
Fast Car (Tracy Chapman cover)
Blue (from Blue, 1996)
I Need You (from Jesus: Music From and Inspired by the Epic Mini Series, 2000)
Love Is Love is Love (from Remnants, 2016/17)
Mother (from Remnants, 2016/17)
How Do I Live (single, 1997)
Long Live Love (from Remnants, 2016/17)
Last Thing On My Mind (from Ronan Keating’s Turn It On, 2003)
Written In The Stars (from Elton John’s Aida, 1999)
Till We Ain’t Strangers Anymore (from Bon Jovi’s Lost Highway, 2007)
Do It Wrong With Me (from Remnants, 2016/17)
Outrageous Love (from Remnants, 2016/17)
The Story (from Remnants, 2016/17)
Can’t Fight the Moonlight (from the Coyote Ugly soundtrack, 2000)
I’m Every Woman (Chaka Khan cover)
Waterfalls (TLC cover)
Get Lucky (Daft Punk cover)
1999 (Prince cover)
Respect (Aretha Franklin cover)
Can’t Fight The Moonlight (Reprise)
Hallelujah (Leonard Cohen cover)