March 5th 2012, Olympia Theatre, Dublin.
Last time I saw Melanie C live was in 2001, she was still riding high on the back of a string of hits from ‘Northern Star’. As of tonight, Melanie C has released a grand total of five albums, had parted company with a major label and has successfully run her own label Red Girl Records. She made her way to Dublin’s Olympia for one of the last gigs of her tour in support of ‘The Sea’.
Warming up the crowd were locals, Keywest, a pop rock five piece who had cut their teeth on the busking scene. Tracks from their album ‘The Message’ were well received, including the singles “Feel So Cruel’ and ‘In The Fight For Love’. This is a grittier track and best of the night by them. They also did a cover of 2Pac’s California in a stripped down busker style set up with cajon instead of drums. Not bad, a nice warm up but they need to pack more of a punch.
On previous occasions when I had seen Mel live, I was impressed by the amount of energy that was in her shows, waiting for her to come onstage, I hoped I hadn’t made a bad decision, I hoped she would live up to the memory I had of those gigs. I really needn’t have worried. Backed by a seven piece band, including two backing singers, Mel strutted onstage to a great reception, despite the fact that the venue was fully seated.
Seeing the Sporty one in this environment, solo, confident, rocking it out, it’s still hard to believe that she was once part of the biggest girl bands ever. This seems to be where she always belonged. The set starts with ‘Rock Me’, her single from last year. This cleverly melds into ‘Yeh Yeh Yeh’. Ms Chisholm uses this trick more than once as ‘Weak’ moves into ‘Northern Star’, which has been given a rhythmic makeover and an epic rendition of ‘Drown’ which is paired with ‘Next Best Superstar’. The continous music does away with the stop/start factor many gigs suffer from.
Mel is in good form, making jokes and telling someone who requests a Spice Girls song to get out! She’s also looking fitter and hotter than I can remember, clad in a black top with see through back and red leather pants, she actually amazes me with her ability to walk in what seem like the highest stilettos I’ve ever seen.
‘Never Be The Same Again’ gets the crowd on their feet but it’s ‘When You’re Gone’, that tears down the house. Everyone in the venue is having a good time, the music is great and the atmosphere is great. After a quick stage exit, Melanie is back for an encore and the set finishes with a 2012 ‘I Turn To You’, the place is going ballistic, every one on their feet, giving it loads, this could be an Ibiza club rather than a cold Monday night in March in Dublin. ‘I Turn To You’ could easily be a hit all over again.
After a very quick ninety minutes, Melanie leaves the stage. Musically, the set flowed, never dipped and Melanie is the ultimate performer, engaging the audience and even playing acoustic guitar at one stage. Extremely good night, only down point for me, I would have loved to hear ‘Goin Down’ live again. Not the end of the world, I played it on my headphones going home. I’ll just have to hope that she’ll play it next time. I’ll be there. Totally underrated as an artist, she’ll always just be considered a Spice Girl by many, deserves lot more recognition for her solo work.