Tate McRae’s no stranger to performing to huge audiences. She’s danced onstage with Justin Bieber, and over two million people tuned in to watch the Canadian artist bag third place on US reality TV show So You Think You Can Dance: The Next Generation. And for the past three years, McRae’s been sharing stark and often-heartbreaking songs with her three million YouTube subscribers. A global livestream? No big deal.
Still, McRae clearly put the work in ahead of this virtual gig. Taking place in a variety of rooms at a mystery location kitted out with huge video screens, strobes, backing dancers, poetic interludes, and a two-piece band, it’s an incredibly slick show that rivals every big-budget livestream of the past year.
Despite this weighty production, she never feels distant. Performing heartfelt songs down the camera lens when she’s not leading the digital audience through the custom-built space, it feels like a deliberate introduction to her own, carefully-curated world. A statement of intent, it shows just what she’s capable of.
Opening with a pulsating remix of the barbed ‘All My Friends Are Fake’ before the physical ‘Bad Ones’ shows off her background in dance, everything about this show oozes confidence.
That also includes McRae’s ability to twist her own material to suit the mood. A bulk of her back catalogue has seen her spilling her guts over sparse instruments. More beauty, less bangers, recent EP ‘Too Young To Be Sad’ is the perfect soundtrack to staying in – but live, she transforms those aching confessions into noisy, arena-ready anthems.
Latest single ‘You’, a collaboration with Troye Sivan and Regard, is only heard during the pre-show but it’s not like McRae is lacking in huge songs. Backed by a live band, the tropical ‘r u ok’ sounds like Billie Eilish fronting Twenty One Pilots. The swaying dance pop of ‘Stupid’ is delivered with infectious West End theatrics, and the twitching urgency of ‘Rubberband’ blends raw emotion with pop ambition.
That said, McRae’s not afraid to slow things down either. ‘One Day’ – the first song she ever shared with the world – sees her sitting crossed-legged on the floor, while a fog machine works overtime. Just vocals and keys, it’s as stripped back as it’s always been, but it still feels powerful. The acoustic guitar-driven ‘Wish I Loved You In The 90’s’ is similarly delicate to the point of vulnerability. Even the breakout smash of ‘You Broke Me First’ is delivered with poise, gradually building up to the show’s finale – a big, theatrical dance breakdown.
A dancer, singer, songwriter and YouTuber, Tate McRae is already a jack of many trades, and this livestream sees her bringing them all together into one impressive, thoughtful show. Instead of relying on huge set-pieces or a single hit song, this evening is a constant spectacle – guess we can confidently add pop star to that growing list.