WORTH A LOOK?: ****
WHERE? Union Chapel
WHEN?: 6/12/18, last night of current tour
SETLIST: 7 Billion; End Before We Start; My Wildest Dreams; One For Sorrow; These Wings; All Out Of Love; Ruins; Deep Water; I’ll Never Love Again; Brave; Deeper Shade Of Blue; Liar; In My Blood; Don’t Leave Me In This Love Alone; Shame On Your; River Deep Mountain High; On My Own
While Steps bandmate Faye Tozer is kicking up a storm on Strictly Come Dancing, Claire Richards has completed a 4-date UK taster tour for a debut album that appears to be (almost) strictly power ballads.
- Read on for reasons including which cover started it all for Claire in her Steps audition over 20 years ago
The Union Chapel is an intimate and atmospheric venue with pews for seats where we saw a memorable Aine Cahill gig earlier this year.
This isn’t the 1st time we’ve seen Claire this year as her band brought their Summer Of Steps tour to Greenwich several months ago and the difference between that and this gig couldn’t have been more apparent.
Claire admits during this 90-minute set that she prefers not to interact with the audience and so when she breaks down in tears towards the end of only her 4th solo gig at its rapturous reception it is all the more touching.
There’s a reason why we think Claire should represent the UK in Eurovision and it’s her live vocal which is as impressive as we wanted it to be this evening.
She might feel uncomfortable talking between the songs but her sense of humour shines through not least when she’s discussing the fine set decoration: ‘You’ll see we’ve been busy on eBay. It’s a little less than I’m used to.’
It might not be the all-dancing spectacle of the Steps arena shows which made her name but new album My Wildest Dreams (out 1 February 2019) is not quite all power ballads as the upbeat opener 7 Billion and late dancefloor shimmy Shame On Your prove.
There’s a nod to Steps and even the much-underrated H And Claire album as well as a Lady Gaga cover from A Star Is Born which is 1 of our favourite songs of the year. It’s an anthem that always reminds us of Whitney Houston and if Claire can’t quite do it the justice that Gaga can, she certainly comes close.
The highpoint of the set is the moment she explains the choice of her penultimate song (River Deep Mountain High) as not the sad ballads that most associate her with but the song that saw her successfully audition for Steps in Ewell, Surrey, on 7 May 1997.
The drummer, 2 guitarists, keyboardist and 2 backing singers bring out the best in Claire tonight and although this is a more polite and reverential setting than our favourite gigs, it’s clear there’s a lot of support for her here and that faith in her debut solo album is well placed.