Extracts from press reviews of the Heather Small 2016 Tour:
Saturday 26th March 2016
One singing star certainly made Louth feel 'proud' when she rocked the Town Hall in front of a packed crowd. Heather Small, armed with a fantastic voice and a whole load of energy entertained for over an hour, belting out her own hits and those from her previous top band M People - along with some classics from Whitney Houston and The Zutons (yes the famous Valerie).
You would struggle to recall a night that was more entertaining in Louth for many years.
Proud was an anthem on its release back in 2000 and remains just that. However there is much more to its co-writer and talented vocalist than one 'anthem' and the 500-strong audience at the Town Hall was very lucky to witness that.
The former front lady of M People performed a powerful set on the last date of her solo tour to an intimate and extremely appreciative crowd – when people of Small's calibre agree to take to the stage in Louth, they will always be guaranteed such a welcome. A welcome that was made all the more warm with the presence on stage of Lincolnshire's own Snake Davis on the saxophone.
It is clear that the soul queen is as much in love with music now as she was when her career began. It matters not where she is performing and she gives no less to the smaller crowds today, as she would have done to the huge arena tours of a decade or two ago. It is fantastic for Louth that it can attract such people as Small and she is certainly welcome back.
Wednesday 23rd March 2016
Small appears to have remarkable staying power as a box office draw, buoyed by the Olympics association of her solo song 'Proud' and the M People anthem 'Search For The Hero'. Her Vicar St appearance is a reminder of just how many big singles M People had in their heyday, plus just how well their music has aged.
Small bounds on-stage to 'One Night In Heaven', which immediately gets an enthusiastic crowd on their feet. Her wonderful hairstyle is as spectacular and impressive as ever, but the real star of the show is her unmistakable voice; a gutsy soulful croon that sounds like no one else back in the 90s... or today.
She prefaces a cover of 'Pearl's A Singer' by Elkie Brooks by paying tribute to the "sound and texture" of the Salford singer's voice. Small shares her distinctive huskiness, but in the spirit of all the best cover versions, she makes the song her own. Small also owns renditions of Michael Jackson's 'Rock With You' and Whitney Houston's 'I Wanna Dance With Somebody', while also unveiling a version of 'Valerie' by The Zutons, which is almost as good as Amy Winehouse's.
'Search For The Hero', 'How Can I Love You More?' and 'Moving On Up' ensure there isn't a lull or dull moment in the set, keeping the crowd on their toes and hollering for more.
In an age when 90s nostalgia is omnipresent and sometimes slightly embarrassing, Small proves if you put on a fantastic show with a great voice and set list, the rest is gravy.
She reveals she has an affinity with the Irish, as her son was born on St Patrick's Day. M People would have headlined the Point in their heyday and Small hasn't lost any of her ability to have a capacity crowd eating out of her hand with a euphoric singalong of soul pop.
Monday 14th March 2016
After the chilled country sounds of acoustic singer Chris Bannister - Preston's answer to John Denver, left us feeling mightily laid back Heather Small transformed the atmosphere of the Regent Centre in a heart-beat. The voice of 90's dance band M People stepped on stage to the strains of One Night in Heaven and instantly set the uplifting tone of the night. Dressed in a skin tight Lycra cat suit with a plunging front to reveal her cleavage and sporting a mane of bright red afro hair and high heels she strutted, gyrated, wiggled and danced throughout the entire show.
The mix of hits and feel-good covers certainly hit the mark as the super-trim 51-year-old demonstrated just how to hold back the years. Her distinctive, deep, soulful voice did not waver despite seeming to lead the Regent through a high impact aerobics workout.
The warm-up came with a tribute to Elkie Brooks, who she cited as a major influence, as she performed the classic Pearl's a Singer, swiftly followed by the disco sounds of Michael Jackson's Rock with You.
The tempo stepped up another notch with the uplifting Sight For Sore Eyes , swiftly followed by the ultimate dance anthem, Whitney Houston's 'I Wanna dance with Somebody'.
The energising, upbeat mood continued with songs that captured all the positivity of the 90's era, from Search for the Hero, to How can I love You More - and the sensational Proud - the eponymous lead single from her solo album that sound-tracked everything from the 2012 Olympic bid to the last episode of Miranda.
Heather was accompanied by a great band and two backing singers- one of which, 'Brian' joined her for a brilliant rendition of Don't Look Any Further featuring a brilliant sax, followed by the Northern Soul album track How Can I Love You More.
There was one last trump card up their sleeve as the encore ended with the 1993 smash hit Moving On Up. Fantastic!
Small City Big Personality
Thursday 3rd March 2016
I’m sure if you were a youngster of the 90’s (like myself!) you will have some sort of affinity with M People. Love or hate them you can’t deny knowing all the lyrics to at least one of their numerous hits. Well, the 90’s Revival Party really did happen when Heather Small took to the Horsecross Stage on Tuesday night.
Equipped with her 5 piece band (we’ll talk more about them later) she strutted onto the stage to “One Night in Heaven” looking exactly as I remember her from the 90’s. She hasn’t actually changed a bit (what is her secret?!). Clad in a tight fitting denim cat suit and looking fantastic, Heather was on TOP singing form and even though it was a school night, the Perth audience were as up for it as any audience could possibly be!
Her hardcore fans accumulated at the front of the stage and were dancing long before she even sang the first line. They fuelled the rest of the audience to get into the spirit of a 90’s pop music party and everyone started to have a rare old time.
Her band were a five piece ensemble with two smiley, dancey, fabby, backing singers, a drummer, bassist and the FANTASTIC Snake Davis who was the entire Brass section all by himself. Snake played tenor, alto, soprano sax and flute. At one point during the performance he had a flute in his hands and a sax around his shoulders and was alternating between the two. It really was “A Sight for Sore Eyes”.
There were a few cover versions which popped up in the set, “Pearl's a Singer” by Elkie Brooks. A cover of Whitney Houston’s “I Wanna Dance with Somebody” and "Valerie", made famous of course by Amy Winehouse. But it was when Heather belted out her own material that she and the audience really came alive. It was one of those situations where you forget how many hits she had and you find yourself singing your heart out to lyrics you didn’t even know that you remembered.
When she announced that she was singing her last song there was collective sound of disappointment; everyone was genuinely enjoying themselves and no one wanted it to end. The crowd cheered for an encore and she reappeared to the sounds of Moving On Up! BRILLIANT! The whole audience were on their feet dancing; the fans at the front were shaking her hands and she even stopped to take a couple of photos with them.
This reviewer was very impressed and touched by how gracious Heather was with her fans. She bantered with them and was patient and very generous with her time. (A skill she could well pass onto to some of the more precious musicians in the business!) She came across as very humble, grounded and appreciative which made her music all the more uplifting, fun and positive.
Ask yourself “What have YOU done today to make you feel proud” Heather can definitely answer that one with “The Perth gig! She and her band were fantastic and she did us ALL proud.
Monday 29th February 2016
You could have been excused for thinking there wasn’t an appetite for a reformed 1990s soul dance group. Concorde 2 proved this was absolutely not the case. It was so packed out with Heather Small fans that dancing was limited to penguin shuffling and if you managed to push your arm through the bodies to get your hand above your head – that’s where it would stay.
She ripped through a setlist of all the classics including Search For The Hero, Proud and How Can I Love You More having opened up with One Night In Heaven.
Small mixed it up with a few covers, including The Zutons and Whitney Houston, and purred confidence in a jumpsuit.
And with a solid band of a flute-come-saxophonist, drummer, bassist and piano player flanked by two gospel choir-style backing singers, the show popped with energy.