Lisa Stansfield performing her Seven Tour at The Symphony Hall Birmingham on Friday 5th September 2014.

Images and review by Kevin Cooper

The Symphony Hall in Birmingham welcomed back Lisa Stansfield; the unpretentious Rochdale superstar. Having not toured since 2005, Stansfield took to the stage as though she had never been away. Having won Ivor Novello awards, multi Brits and a Silver Clef, and having sold close to 20 million albums, there was not much to live up to with a musical comeback, was there?

Lisa Stansfield’s pure tones have so obviously influenced the likes of Adele and Jessie Ware that it is an injustice that she has almost been forgotten. That said, she hasn’t really helped herself, releasing only two albums since 1997 and refusing to join the other 80’s stars on the Here And Now circuit.

But she is back, and boy is she back! Promoting her first record in ten years, she is now on tour, reminding us of her abilities and how to gracefully make a comeback at the tender age of 48. Coming on to the stage that was very simply set with just a black back drop, her opening number from the new album, Can’t Dance set the tone for the evening. This opener is like a lush 90’s R & B number which immediately had the audience on their feet and proved to be a clear display of her authoritive soulfulness.

As Stansfield found her step, there was no going back. Set Your Loving Free, The Real Thing and Time To Make You Mine quickly followed. Fans old and new needed no encouragement to get up and dance as the classics, Someday (I’m Coming Back), People Hold On and Change were all belted out in the way that only Lisa Stansfield can.

The better material from her new album Seven, showed what her voice can really do. Stupid Heart could be from Elvis’s Vegas period whilst Conversation is a stripped down, tour de force of strength and vulnerability that suggests she is overdue a whole album of classic sounding soul. Carry On sounds like a perfect Northern Soul track with an upbeat tempo, great vocals and soulful horns.

The band’s smattering of 70’s disco licks and her underrated cover of Barry White’s Never Never Gonna Give You Up, kept the audience out of their seats and singing along.

A great live band who throughout the evening showcased how talented they are with complicated full band songs that sounded absolutely amazing. Special recognition should go to Stansfield’s female backing singer who had an incredible voice.

There was only one song that could be considered for an encore, and the one that I think of as the defining Lisa Stansfield song; All Around The World, which she delivered in such a melodic and rhythmic way as she demonstrated that she has lost none of her emotional delivery or vocal power.

As the concert was brought to an end with Live Together, it astounded me that a voice so big and soulful can appear from such a tiny demure woman, but then in between songs came this really strong Lancashire accent, proving that you can take the girl out of Rochdale, but you can never take Rochdale out of the girl.

Welcome back Lisa, don’t stay away so long next time.