Gig review: Lisa Stansfield, Edinburgh

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KNOWN during the Nineties for over-produced, mid-market ballads and upbeat tracks with only the vaguest resemblance to the then-burgeoning house scene, Lancashire’s Lisa Stansfield is not what you expect in person.

Lisa Stansfield

Queen’s Hall Edinburgh

* * * *

Consciously clawing her way back to the Northern Soul scene in which her musical inspiration has its deepest roots, this full band show was very good, bordering on excellent.

Stansfield, ageless in a floor-length backless pink dress, is a powerful live presence, a singer with range and ability and a joyful performer who looked like she was getting as much of a kick out of the music as her fans. Nobody remained seated for long, an unlikely situation for a middle-aged and upwards crowd. Those familiar with the sleek production on her most famous songs would doubtless be surprised by the sax-abetted disco groove of Change, the thundering drums driving What Did I Do To You? on, and the frantic, soulful joys of Someday (I’m Coming Back) and Live Together.

People Hold On was played as the hit house remix featuring the dense, danceable bassline of Tori Amos’s Professional Widow and new track Can’t Dance was actually a highlight, its “crucify the dancefloor/ I know just what my feet are for” couplet summing up the whole evening. In this context, the torch song pleasantries of All Woman were an aberration next to the joy on Stansfield’s face when her crowd sang All Around the World wholeheartedly back at her.