REVIEW: Gretta Ray is a Heartbreak Baby at Lafayette

“Oh my goodness me,” are the first words Gretta Ray manages to speak at her landmark headline show at Lafayette in London on Monday night.

The Australian songwriter has been releasing music since 2016 but is a star on the rise in the U.K. having won the hearts of crowds when supporting Maisie Peters last year – a quick audience poll confirms that the vast majority of the sold out 600-strong crowd first met her at those shows.

To have won over so many in those short support sets is a testimony to Ray’s heartfelt pop hits and, at Lafayette, new fans see the singer at her most complete.

Skipping onstage to the opening tones of ‘Upgraded’ with long blonde hair and a champagne dress flowing behind her, an Aussie glow fills the Kings Cross venue.

Ray’s sophomore record Positive Spin dropped last year and it’s the sun-kissed material from that album that takes centre stage. 

There’s a Hollywood-feeling in the lovesickness of ‘Nobody Here’ and earlier release ‘Cherish You’ sees heartbreak delivered breezily – even the lyric of “sweetheart, I’m no match for your demons” comes with a wink.

It’s impossible not to fall for the charm in Ray’s quirky lyrics and bubbling production. ‘Dear Seventeen’ is an ode to her younger self filled with references to support sets, writer’s block and Taylor Swift. Cleverly, it’s followed with a quick fire cover of Swift’s ‘Guilty as Sin’ before she strips things back for her viral Billy Joel cover in ‘Vienna’.

“I’m so excited to be moving here,” the singer giggles halfway through the night. Despite her roots Down Under, much of Ray’s material has been written in the Big Smoke and she admits to the crowd that she’s upping sticks and moving to the city this summer.

The next 20 minutes is a whistle stop tour around Ray’s London life from heartbroken strolls through the streets to cathartic studio sessions. ‘The Cure’ is a particular highlight as she seeks rebirth from a break up in the capital.

Before the night comes to a close, Ray shifts up a gear for ‘You’ve Already Won’, a track that already turned Wembley Arena into a bouncing frenzy when supporting Peters and the effect is even more potent in the intimacy of Lafayette.

A finally flurry comes in the country twang of breakthrough hit ‘Drive’ and ‘Don’t Date The Teenager’, the latter a slice of pop perfection.

After such a high, it’s a curveball Ray throws when coming back on stage for her encore, with nothing but a guitar for company and band mates waiting at the bar. What follows in an unreleased track detailing the highs of her 2023 on the road to the backdrop of grief in losing a grandparent and her dog.

That song is some of the star’s best work to date as it mixes the euphoria of stages with the melancholy of January reflection. Clearly, we’re just scratching the surface with what’s to come from Gretta Ray.

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