At the age of 7 I really got into music. I discovered a band called Fleetwood Mac through my older sisters record collection with the album Tango In The Night and immediately fell for the lyrics of Seven Wonders and “making a path to the rainbows end.” From there another love came with the trio called Wilson Phillips who sang about ‘holding on for one more day.’ I was and still am very much a dreamer! Then in 1993 a girl group called Eternal came onto the scene and not only did their music get me but their style and the fact that they were Londoners resonated with me as from a very young age I had an obsession with London. This was when I became a fan in every term of the word. I bought the magazines and sat eagerly waiting chart positions of their singles that I bought in every format that I could afford. Then I attended my first live concert in the winter of 1994, where I took five decent images that would lead to my career goal of being a photographer specialising in the world of music.
Fast Forward to the year 2018 and the singer Louise Redknapp of the original line-up played a one-off show at Chelsea’s Under The Bridge. A mini tour followed then in January 2020 her first album in 20 years, Heavy Love, was released with an album release show at St John’s Church in Kingston Upon Thames. The last few years I have become that happy and carefree person from my teenage years. I have found a way to ‘release’ again in a different way to how I listen and feel other music that I love. I can tell you about the other gigs over the years but 17 January 2020 in Kingston was a whole different affair showcasing the true power of music…and this is a long way round to delving into this ‘review.’
It was like I was back in 1994. I met a few friends beforehand and as the clocked ticked nearer to showtime we were getting more excited. My friends on this January 2020 day have changed from that 1994 gig but we were eager and early as I was back then that when the doors opened, we rushed in and others passed us because they decided to have two queues to check ticket. I was lucky to get front row as there was no reserved seating. We warmed ourselves up and got acquainted with others then it was showtime. We didn’t know what to do. We wanted to stand but THIS WAS A CHURCH! We bopped in our seats but all looked at each other as Louise started to sing the first few lines of her comeback single Stretch but we couldn’t hear her. Luckily without stopping the show, her voice was heard and she got us up out of our seats immediately. She snuck in a few oldies in between songs from the new album and then a moment came that I will never forget and that quite a few Louise fans will remember me for.
The summer of 2019 to the first few weeks of 2020 have been some of the hardest times in my life because of certain people in my life. I lost someone to suicide and then very recently to cancer and only a select few people know about this … until now. One person at the gig knew about the recent event as we talked about a song from the new album just the day before in that I had to turn it off cos I was bawling on my way from Newcastle to London. As Louise introduced the song I looked at my friend and said, “is this where I’m going to lose it?” He looked at me and said, “I think so!” He then swapped seats with his partner to be next to me as he thought he might be needed. He was so right. I tried my hardest to keep composed then Louise sang the lines, “You don’t have to be brave for me. I’ve been on the side of painful,” and the tears just ran down my cheeks then the chorus kicked in:
I won’t tell you lies
It’s gonna hurt sometimes
Tearing muscles makes them strong
Believe me I’ve been there
And yeah, I know you’re scared
You can’t see it now
But hold on, we’re breaking back together
And I am at a total loss. Of course being front row and holding onto my friend tightly Louise sees me and shows concern and at the end of the song announces that it’s a hard song to sing but made harder when someone is bawling their eyes out before her. And then it was like a moment of comfort as she sings the song that brought her into my life. In Eternal, Louise only got to sing a few lines solo but to this day she says she is forever grateful to her girl group days so it is fitting that she gets to take the lead of Stay as a solo artist and it is beautiful and more so with a mash-up of Anita Baker’s Sweet Love. This night is the album launch show. By the time I post this, it will be a month ’til Louise starts the Heavy Love tour and getting to the half way point of this night, we already have everything from uptempo tunes to the ballads and even tearjerkers. What an amazing insight to make us eager for her tour.
The rest of the night gives us more new album tracks and in circles I’ve heard that Hammer is not a strong favourite but we get this performed live for us and we come to understand why it was chosen for the album. Definitely one of the highlights of the night. In fact there’s not one dull moment as even when the tears came it was a much needed release. The room becomes ever so silent as she sings her first solo single, Light Of My Life and then we are literally taken to the church and dancing like a gospel choir as she sings Lets Go Round Again and returns for an encore with Arms Around The World. Every song is delivered 110%, including that mic mishap. Louise is well and truly back and the night proved that ‘Pop Needs Lou!’
If music doesn’t give you these emotions then you might need to look at that record collection you own. What a way to start the new year than with a gig to take every bit of you. Unfortunately or maybe fortunately with the specialness of this night, I attended this gig 100% as a fan and without a photo pass to have my SLR to hand. If I did I may not have got that moment that I so clearly needed.
Louise, thank you for coming back to music and for sharing it with us and also for bringing some special people into my life.