Pride 2015 - Big Weekend Saturday
As Manchester City Centre put itself back together following another successful Pride Parade, the party carried on in the Village. Canal-St’s Chris Park reviews the Main Stage, chats to Heather Peace and even got some downtime at Sackville Gardens.
Kstewart may not have been on the music scene all that long but she absolutely owned the Main Stage on Saturday afternoon. She looked hot in leopard print bra and skirt and could have been channelling Beyonce as she faultlessly fired out song after song starting with breakthrough track, Last All Night which received a fantastic response from the crowd.
For most festival artists, a cover version is a must and Kstewart stuck her neck on the line by attempting Whitney classic, I Wanna Dance With Somebody. It’s was a risk, especially in front of such a crowd but she was more than capable of the job and had the everyone eating out of the palm of her hand.
She seemed to be buzzing from the experience, telling us we were the best crowd she’d ever had. Somehow I think she will have more audiences like this as her career looks bright.
She ended with recent single, Keeping You Up before skipping off, leaving the crowd wanting more which, as every artist knows, is the best way to leave them.
If Kstewart was the archetypal bad girl, then Karen Harding was the flip side of the coin, looking very cute in pink checks. She took to the stage totally on her own and ably danced and sang her way through her set.
Best known for featuring on Eurovision:Your Country Needs You and The X Factor she worked the crowd with songs such as Feel Good and upcoming single, Open My Eyes but it was hit, Say Something which really got people going which Harding clearly relished lamenting that her high heels were stopping her from coming down and dancing with us.
Next up it was the turn of a very different Ms Harding. Everyone was in raring to go after being promised that Harding’s costume was an eye popper. As the opening bars of Love Machine started, four gorgeous guys paved the way for an incredibly hot looking Sarah Harding in skin tight PVC as she stormed onto the stage.
Ably assisted by her backing singer, Harding was out to make a point. She’s received a critical mauling in the press recently but to give her credit, she doesn’t seem to be letting it affect her. The performance was fantastic as she threw herself around the stage. After Love Machine, she was visibly out of breath, but soon recovered to treat us to solo song,
Live Before I Die which she laughingly said “No can say I haven’t done that”.
She is a more than capable solo artist however there was a definite hint of sadness as she introduced Girls Aloud favourite The Promise, telling us that it isn’t quite the same without her four bandmates. The crowd were determined to help her out and sang at top pitch.
The set was rounded off by recent single Threads which everyone loved. It is always hard to make the transition from band member to solo artist and many have failed but if she keeps pulling performances like that out of the bag, she has a good chance of breaking down the preconceptions, right or wrong, that people have of her.
Whilst Canal Street was rammed with revellers and the beats were fighting for supremacy, it was a refreshing change to go to Sackville Gardens where an oasis of calm was created.
Appropriately, Heather Peace, patron of Manchester Pride, actress and singer was given control of the stage there for the day on Saturday and she turned the gardens into a love filled garden party.
I caught up with Heather backstage to see how things were going. “It’s really lovely” she says “We wanted a chilled out affair and we’ve achieved it. It’s an alternative to the craziness out there”.
She is instantly recognisable from her stints on London’s Burning and Waterloo Road but which does she prefer, music or acting? “As a mother, music gives the options of being away for shorter times but I’m putting myself out there as an actor again, I miss the ensemble. I’m not signed to anything yet. I can do the music on the side”.
Being a patron of Manchester Pride, the Big Weekend is a culmination of all this work, “(The role) means an awful lot to me. This is the city I found myself in. I came out at 19 when I was student here. This was my social scene as a youngster.
Manchester Pride is a full festival of arts to celebrate our culture with theatre and exhibitions” A previous reporter had asked her of the relevance of such an event in modern times, “Why shouldn’t it exist just because we can get married?”.
With all these roles, it is a busy time for Peace but when asked about how being a mother changes this, her face visibly lights up. “It makes me forget to pluck my eyebrows” she laughs “My own vanity has changed to looking at my daughter. I’m way more relaxed about my career, my ambition isn’t as burning”
When asked about the theme of the parade being devotion and what she is devoted to, her face retains that smile “My wife and child” she says.
Peace took to the stage to round off a fantastic day and received a huge response from the crowd, working her way through her back catalogue and a wonderful cover of Girls Just Wanna Have Fun.
Another shout out must go to Peace’s 19 year old co-star from Waterloo Road, Joe Slater, who reigned supreme on the stage ending with an amazing cover of Don’t Look Back In Anger, his is definitely a name to watch for the future.
By Chris Park for Canal St Online.