Belinda Carlisle at The Albert Hall Manchester
LIVE YOUR LIFE, BE FREE…
To put things into context, Belinda Carlisle has not had a big hit for nearly 20 years (though Sun in 2013 was a great track) nor has she released an original studio album since 1996’s A Woman and A Man. Yet The Albert Hall in Manchester was packed and very much in a Friday night mood. We should not be surprised however, as Belinda certainly has an impressive decade-long back catalogue of solo hits post The Go-Go’s.
Multi-instrumentalist and singer/songwriter Gabe Lopez has become a regular fixture of Belinda Carlisle tours, and once again he gets us warmed up with his energetic brand of guitar pop. Gabe’s new single California Blues is fantastic. Belinda herself arrives promptly, dressed casually in black, armed with the trusty tambourine. The shoes don’t stay on long!
Opening with Runaway Horses, we are taken on a nostalgic journey of timeless songs. Usual suspects Circle in the Sand, Leave a Light On, Summer Rain, La Luna and I Get Weak keep us on our feet all evening, and we also get personal (underrated) favourite Vision of You, her very first US solo single Mad About You, The Go-Go’s biggest hit We Got the Beat, Serge Gainsbourg’s Bonnie et Clyde (from the French album Viola) and some little known track called Heaven Is a Place on Earth?!
At 57, Belinda not only looks fantastic (and we can vouch for it, we had the pleasure of a quick meeting backstage), but still sounds great also. The sexy rasp and vibrato are very much still in check! There is also that relaxed joy that is exuded by an artist so comfortable and happy in their own skin that furthers our enjoyment. We have seen Miss Carlisle perform at a couple of Manchester Prides and were always drawn to, and charmed by her self-effacing, down to earth humour.
The Albert Hall deserves a mention for being one of the finest venues in the City now, not only because it’s stunning. It’s really found its feet quickly and the calibre of the events there proves this. The team and service they provide is one of the best too. It’s rare you go to a gig and think how helpful and friendly the bar and security team were!
But back to Belinda: we know this won’t be the last time we see her live: she definitely has as much fun performing. Talk of a new studio album soon is welcome news, and ‘mighty Manchester’ (Belinda’s words on Twitter) certainly looks forward to welcoming her back very soon. The final song couldn’t be more apt: Live Your Life, Be Free… So many meanings, so many memories and so much to look forward to.
For more information about The Albert Hall.
Reviewed for Canal St Online by Nosheel Rahi.