Anastacia @ Albert Hall, Manchester
After shooting to fame with I’m Outta Love in 2000, Anastacia's sold-out gig at Manchester's Albert Hall shows that the American pop-rock singer still maintains a strong fan base today, easily on-par with those early days.
Words and photos: Charlotte Wellings
The atmosphere is electric as two hooded female performers begin to bang on large drums. When Anastacia enters the stage it's apparent how elated her fans are to see her. The 47 year old has such an engaging presence, petite but powerful, full of dazzling charisma as she gestures and sings. Her strong, iconic mezzo-soprano vocals shine through the room as she rocks the high and low notes equally, seemingly unchanged and holding the tricky long notes pitch perfectly. She clearly knows how to put on a show and, joined by backing singers, dancers and musicians, shows her experience well.
The bass player joins her centre stage for Welcome To My Truth and puts on a stand-out solo performance. She sings Sentimental Ways and wraps her arms around him. The three backing singers harmonise beautifully and she ends the track by pointing at the audience singing I still love you.
The stage lighting tonight is subtle but effective; an 'A' shaped lighting rig sits over the drums, flashing red, white and blue during her set. She tells the audience that she's now going to play a song they might not know from the film Fantastic Four and takes a seat in the middle of the 'A'. She jokes and demonstrates a high note whilst sitting down on a bar stool and starts the song accompanied by a beautiful acoustic guitar. The lighting strips placed around the stage flash up like flames as she sings burning down and the audience sing along.
The next two songs are my story, welcome to my story. She performs Heavy On My Heart and Stay. The messages in these songs run much deeper, she is strongest at her most vulnerable, sharing her most tender moments. Anastacia was struck by breast cancer at the age of 34, finding out when she went for breast reduction surgery to reduce back pain and having a routine mammogram which saved her life. Following a second bout of cancer in 2013 she had a double mastectomy and to the joy of her fans she has returned defiant. She belts out I'm not ready to go just yet and points to the floor to gesture that she's staying right here. When the song ends she cups her hands together praying and putting her hand to her heart thanks the audience for their support - it’s hard to not to be moved by her passion and fighting power and the crowds admiration is very much noted and deserving.
The sombre mood is lifted as she jokes that she probably should have mentioned earlier that she has an App where fans can vote for which of their favourite songs they would like to hear during the tour, tonight's pick is In Your Eyes.
The two drummers from the opening are now on stage playing violin as one of the backing singers steps forward to sing an operatic-style jaw-dropping performance as the opening for Left Outside Alone.
There's an intermission where the backing singers perform a rendition of Grace Jones' Pull Up To The Bumper, followed by a mix of Oops Up Side Your Head, by the Gap Band and Super Freak by Rick James.
Anastacia returns to stage singing Not That Kind followed by the bass player taking centre stage again and doing a groovy solo piece. As they change over guitars for the finale song she asks the audience if they are digging the show? You guys are lively!
Shouting Tequila, Tequila Anastacia and her crew break into a Mexican-style dance , with four of them in a line they do a side-step conga-line dance routine that has the crowd overjoyed and cheering as she starts singing Why'd You Lie To Me? They finish the show with a Charlie's Angels style pose as the lights go down and the audience cheer.
Ask anyone who attended this show and they will tell you how Anastacia put on a fantastic performance, full of energy that accumulated to provide an overall unforgettable, enjoyable experience. She gave her fans exactly what they wanted and without a doubt they should feel elated.