Michael Ray has hit some milestones this year and he added a sell out London show to the list on Tuesday night.
From the moment the Florida-born singer, 31, came on stage and announced the evening’s gig was going to be like being in his ‘living room’ the audience was captivated.
Kicking off the music was the newlywed’s hit which ‘started it all in 2015’, Kiss You In The Morning, and it worked a charm in getting the crowd singing along.
Michael showed off the depth of his swooning vocals and hell of a smile as he sang the catchy tune and had some fun back performing on a British stage for the first time since C2C in March.
It didn’t take long for the audience to school Michael in some British terms, leaving him to throw back his head in laughter and say: ‘Carly don’t even know whose she’s got coming home!’
During one story the singer explained how his family would try and fit 80 people into his grandma’s yellow house – queue audience member: ‘That’s what gardens are for!’
Sweet as ever but dealing with a few background noise distractions Michael asked for clarification declaring, ‘did you say goblins?’ before everything was cleared up with a lot of laughter.
After discovering a garden is a backyard, the tables were then turned and the Brits got to learn about spring break in the build up to reflective tune The Girl From Spring Break.
‘Here’s it called Easter break,’ shouted one lively fan, with another suggesting Blackpool could be an alternative for Panama City Beach or Daytona.
Clearly having a great time, Michael flashed his trademark glowing smile before laughing and replying, ‘well, you’re sure going to need Jesus after spring break.’
When he started the song Michael proved why he’s a true joy to watch, putting heart and soul into every line and helping us visualise the girl, no-one wanting to take their eyes off the stage.
During the gig Michael also let his adoring fans in on a few personal stories including one fitting tidbit that his family used to be in a band called the Country Cousins – you couldn’t make it up – so it wasn’t a surprise to them when he started playing music in bars when he hit his teenage years.
Summer Water revealed the small town boy’s growing years and Run Away With You, which was written with Jon Rich and inspired by wanting quality time with his wife, showed the importance of family before Michael moved onto singing some of his sadder tracks.
Proving that despite his growing name in country music, Michael is just like the rest of us he revealed some of the story behind emotional packed Amos track I’m Gonna Miss You.
He explained that although there are times to get over a break up, there are ‘times when you need to listen to Need You Now by Lady Antebellum and cry – and this is the song on Amos.’
The crowd roared (who hasn’t been there) in agreement before Michael and guitarist Jeff, who had his own show stopping-moment at the end of the gig when he couldn’t remember the chords, gave a heart-felt performance of the tune.
By the end of the night Michael was becoming emotional, declaring that the show was ‘one of the luckiest nights of my life’.
In a sweet tribute to his grandfather, Michael revealed that he had found a penny backstage and always views finding one as a sign his family is watching.
Perhaps the most touching song of the night was Dancing Forever, which was originally penned about Michael’s sister but then changed its meaning when he met his now wife Carly Pearce.
As he sang ‘It’s like you got a song in your head that nobody else knows, so just follow it baby wherever it goes, It’s gonna hurt to let you go, but any go fly,’ it was obvious above all Michael is a family man who is immensely proud of his wife’s glittering career.
After an extremely memorable and intimate gig, ever humble Michael told the audience: ’All I ever wanted to do was be a small part of country music .. and here we are.’
Yes, here we are Michael.
Review by Bryony Jewell