Entry to tonight’s gig was difficult, due to the box office staff trying to force me to have both a ticket and photo-pass (which I had to sign for). After some considerable explanation the photo-pass was taken back and I made my way to my seat, which was centre-stage and offering a superb view. The stage had been brought forward making the NIA quite cosy, but even so there were empty seats.
First up was Steve Appleton, a young man who plays guitar with a backing tape. He then tells the audience that he usually plays with a band, but tonight some of them are out of town, “so I made a backing tape”. What could they possibly be doing that’s better than the chance to support Anastacia?
He moves away from the guitar to the keyboard and gives a superb rendition of ‘Hound Dog’. His album is out in August and he seems quite a talent.
At 9pm the house lights go down, the screams go up (both from the men and women) and the band walks out and begins to play ‘One Day in Your Life’. The stage is all white, with a large walk-way across the back of the stage and three huge screens on which a cartoon animation plays out, before Anastacia appears centre stage. She looks fantastic, in jeans, brown leather jacket and customary glasses. ‘I Can Feel You’ follows, from the ‘Heavy Rotation’ album that this tour is to promote.
“Good evening, it’s a pleasure to be here” and I genuinely think she means this. Throughout she chats to the audience, and comments that it’s been some time since she was last here, four years to be precise, but she had to have a break and get married. She doesn’t refer to her health problems that have caused her absence but she looks incredibly fit and healthy.
Accompanied by two female backing singers, and two male dancers the show never stops, one dancer performs a painting graphic on the back screens during “I thought I told you that”, the other performs an acrobatic routine with a roll-top bath during “Cowboys and Kisses”.
The entire band is introduced, including the keyboard player who is local, and says, to the delight of Anastacia, “its bostin”. She says she has no idea what he means!
For one lucky punter from Coventry the night was extra special, as he was plucked from the crowd for a ‘dance-off’ and having duly obliged, gets a signed programme and peck on the cheek.
The next costume change comes following a video for “Beautiful Messed Up World”, and she re-appears in a new pair of jeans and a bra with an almost tartan pattern, showing her toned abdomen off.
As seems to be common at concerts at present an announcement is made relating to Michael Jackson, which I have to admit seems to split the audience, and at one stage it almost sounds like there was some booing. “You’ll never be alone” is dedicated to Michael Jackson.
The encore sees the final costume change, this time sporting black spandex leggings and black bra. She looks amazing and as a red-blooded male it’s such a shame the photographers weren’t allowed to get pictures. On this note, I am somewhat puzzled why they were not allowed near the stage. There was a barrier at the front of the stage, creating a pit, but for some reason all the photographers had to stand by the mixing desk and photograph from there, so those without a zoom lens were stumped. It also meant trying to take pictures over the heads of the crowd. Given Anastacia’s looks the camera must be one of her best friends and so I am puzzled why they were not allowed in the pit at the front.
The encore begins with another animation, this time a DJ scratchin’ records, before the real-life drummer begins to perform a vocal boom box, before being joined by other band members until Anastacia starts to sing ‘Not that kind’. After the first verse they go back to their instruments and the songs resumes. Following this is ‘Heavy Rotation and two of her best known tracks, “I’m outta love” and “Left outside alone”, but both get reworked and come across with an almost dance backtrack.
Anastacia has been away for some time, and this may have affected her popularity, previously she’d been at the NEC and sold it out, yet here was struggling to fill a vastly shrunken NIA. It could of course be the economic climate, but if we believe what we are told by the media live music tickets sales have remained strong.
Anastacia came across as a very genuine person, who chatted throughout to the crowd, and even though it seemed a short number of songs the set lasted for two hours and was very entertaining.
There was something to please everyone, except of course photographers!
One day in your life
I can feel you
I thought I told you that
You’ll never be alone
Cowboys and kisses
Why’d you lie to me
In your eyes
You’ll be fine
Paid my dues
Beautiful messed up world
Sick and tired
I belong to you
Not that kind
I’m outta love
Left outside alone
Review – Glenn Raybone
Photos – Katja Ogrin