What: “Here comes the girls”
(Anastacia, Lulu & Heather Small)
Where: Hammersmith Apollo
When: 29th November 2010
I now know what women feel like walking past a building site in the middle of summer! Boy did I feel outnumbered. That should be no surprise really when this event carries such a title and is billed as “beginning of the party season and the dawn of Woman Power!!” So perhaps Here Comes the Woman may be more appropriate if not quite so fitting of a well known song (original written by New Orleans R&B man Allen Toussaint before the Sugarbabes took it to popular awareness).
The woman in question are British singers Lulu and Heather Small (Black Box & M People) with American Anastacia. This is the second tour by a band under that name, the first in 2009 had Heather Small’s place taken by Chaka Khan.
Due to the tube strike it was a nightmare to get there but it was well worth it. The three singers without any egos appearing to cause rivalries lead us through a catalog of great songs both theirs and classic tunes from the 60s through to today. The stage setting was fairly minimal but with a large screen above the stage and lots of screens for moving images down the sides and behind the singers and band. These were used to good effect to bring colour and feel to the song or era being covered. The sound mix and balance was very good too. It was just a shame that with three great vocalists that they resorted to backing tracks so often for the backing vocals.
One other irritation that seemed unnecessary was the occasion musical instrumentals provided by the tight band. Artists often use these when the singer/s are changing costume but most times the singers just reappeared a little while later to carry on as before. This really broke up the flow of the gig and whilst the rest of the time the audience were on their feet dancing they returned to their seats almost immediately when the band were on their own. This was a real shame if the objective of the night was to have a party.
The women seemed to be really enjoying themselves and there was obvious chemistry between them and in particularly between Lulu and Anastacia. It’s a great idea to bring a collection of great vocalists together for the night and it reminds me of the Stax/Atlanta tours of old. In fact during the 60s segment I almost felt like i could have been back there which is a compliment of the highest order. All three are great vocalists and they were each given times to solo their talent not just on their own songs. Anastacia’s version of Alicia Keys’ “Empire State of Mind” was a particular highlight for me.
I was a little disappointed that each didn’t have a few more of their own songs in the set however that in itself didn’t spoil the evening. If there was any sort of competition for best vocalist my vote would just go to Anastacia on the whole. She certainly seemed to get the best crowd reaction. There was only one wobbly vocal moment during the set and that was on the final song when they did Robbie’s Angels. This was probably down to an equipment failure when Anastacia lost her foldback (the band have a separate sound fed back to them so they can hear themselves and their own choice of instrument mix that’s different to what the audience hear). Once she’d abandoned the in-ear system she went on to hit some of the best live notes I’ve heard in a long time. A true professional.
Angels was the final song of the second set and very unusually there was no encore. This wasn’t by the look of it down to the artists but more the audience. They seemed satisfied with what they were given or perhaps feared the long journey home in bad weather and put their coats on and left. Perhaps they don’t go to many gigs and fell for the normal wheeze when the artists bid them goodnight and leave the stage only to be coaxed back by loud cheering and stomping of feet! I don’t think any of them left dissatisfied and there was a party mood in the air.
A partial setlist included:
“I’m Every Woman”
“One Day in Your Life”
“Relight My Fire”
“Moving On Up”
“Ain’t Too Proud to Beg”
“Signed, Sealed, Delivered I’m Yours”
“I Can’t Turn You Loose”
“Dancing in the Street” (Anastacia’s solo)
“Mercy” (Lulu’s solo)
“Valerie” (Heather Small’s solo)
“I’m Outta Love”
“One Night in Heaven”
And after the interval
“I Gotta Feeling”
“Let’s Get the Party Started”
“Itchycoo Park” (Heather Small’s solo)
“Search for the Hero” (Heather Small’s solo)
“Empire State of Mind” (Anastacia’s solo)
“Left Outside Alone” (Anastacia’s solo)
“Shout” (Lulu’s solo)
Lady GaGa Medley
“No More Tears (Enough Is Enough)”