I was converted into a believer last night.
Raleigh Ritchie (who’s real name is Jacob Anderson) is best known as an actor from Bristol England, who plays the part of Grey Worm on the popular HBO series, Game of Thrones. At least that’s how he was initially presented to me. I’ve never seen a single episode of the show, and I never heard of Ritchie until a week before attending his sold out concert last night (May 1, 2017), at New York City’s famed Bowery Ballroom. But the moment he stepped foot on the stage and opened his mouth, it was clear that music may began to lead his introductions. As a singer/songwriter/performer, the guy is magic.
The unassuming musician opened his set swinging with the drum heavy hitter, “Werld is Mine,” in just a simple cap, t-shirt, shorts and tennis shoes. And it works. Whereas the typical pop star has hundreds of dollars of shimmer and high fashion hanging from their body, Ritchie’s attire made him feel accessible, and as an audience member, gave me permission to move around and have a good ass time. His attire may also be a case of function over form…
By all means, Raleigh Ritchie is a performer—to the max. He’s totally committed to each and every song, jumping freely around the stage and throwing his body to the music, often resulting in his hat falling off his head (which I’m sure the fans hoped would tumble into the crowd). His wild and free energy immerses you into every moment, and demands you to feel each second of the experience.
Vocally, Ritchie is an inspiration. Is he the next Luther Vandross? No, but in a world where every singer’s voice is auto-tuned to grating limits, and it’s impossible to recreate vocal takes comped inside a studio, this guy stood on stage and boldly sang every single note live, as if his life depended on it. He used every bit of what he had to deliver each and every melody to its complete potential. He hit it hard for the majority of the hour-and-a-half set, but also crooned with lovely gentleness and authenticity on songs like, “Birthday Girl” and the “almost closer” to the show, “You’re a Man Now, Boy.”
The show wasn’t only on the stage. Ritchie constantly made sure to involve the dense army of his dedicated fans. They knew every word to every song, reciprocated the energy he exuded, and were game for any request he asked of them (he turned every single one of them into background singers during the tune, “Never Say Die”).
The fantastic night came to a close with the bright, upbeat number titled “The Greatest.” Before kicking the song off, Ritchie asked the crowd to connect with their friends while singing along. It was a perfect way to end the show, because even if you came alone, at least you had Raleigh Ritchie in the room with you, who by the end of the night, felt just like an old (very talented) friend, and not the singer (and actor) you initially came to see.
Raleigh Ritchie US & Canada Tour 2017
Dates May 3 – Toronto, ON – Velvet Underground | May 4 – Chicago, IL – Lincoln Hall | May 8 – Los Angeles, CA – Troubadour | May 9 – San Francisco, CA – Rickshaw Stop