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Shakespears Sister Live

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Bridgewater Hall, Manchester. 11 November 2019

Shakespears Sister are:

Siobhan Fahey
Marcella Detroit

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There’s one primary reason for wanting to cover the performance by Shakespears Sister at the regal and sophisticated Bridgewater Hall in Manchester - the song ‘Stay’. Back in the early 90s this song remained super-glued in premier position on the pop chart for many weeks. On release, the ‘Stay’ was accompanied by the most ghostly and sad video with both ladies hovering over what seemed to be a dead or dying body. The song had everything - great melody, great words, great production, great performance, great emotion - it was the perfect pop song. Shakespears Sister released more albums and singles but for me nothing else quite matched the beauty and power of ‘Stay’.

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So that’s why I’m travelling down the M56 in the pouring rain to catch this vintage duo performance this one song. But first a young lady called Delena who, after some research, still remains a mystery. Accompanied by a keyboardist and guitarist the young lady gave a pleasant vocal performance which combined pop with soul in songs that received a positive response from the audience.

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Delena’s audience was small but prior to Shakespears Sister’s arrival the venue suddenly filled although not to full capacity. The atmosphere became electric as the arrival moment approached and when the lights dipped the expectant roar almost lifted the roof! The ladies performed with a full band consisting of drums, bass guitar, rhythm guitar, lead guitar, and keyboards. The ladies followed the band onto the stage both sporting guitars. Fahey looked glamorous in her white, sparkling cowgirl suit with Detroit in more sombre, mournful black.

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Then the fun really started. As soon as the first note of ‘Goodbye Cruel World’ rung out the seated audience stood up as if in salute, and stayed standing throughout the show. While Detroit was anchored behind her mic, an excited and enthusiastic Fahey pranced around the stage. And the song…I think I’ve discovered another Sister winner. After melodious pop arrived the dark,  heavy dance beat of ‘Heroine’. The early signs were that this was going to be a very special performance with only a single criticism - the sound management. While visibly things looked wonderful there was a muddiness to the sound which to a degree masked the quality of the vocal performances.

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As the show progressed it became obvious that Detroit was tasked to sing the more difficult high-noted song passages such as those in ‘You’re History’ and ‘My 16th Apology’ which showed the soul side of the duo’s music albeit with an underlying dance beat. Immediately following ‘Emotional Thing’ a backdrop image appeared taking up the whole of the back wall. It showed a long winding road in a desert scene which Fahey reflected on as “the dark side” perhaps reflecting on the roller coast ride of the duo’s relationship… The following downbeat ‘C.U. Next Tuesday’ and ‘Time To Say Goodbye’ matched the sentiment. Fahey greeted her audience with “We’re so excited to be back in Manchester“ with members of the audience returning the complement big-time.

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‘All The Queens Horses’ exemplified the tendency of several songs to reflect on a troubled relationship. There were times when Fahey sided up to her friend and at one point kissed her. The audience enjoyed every move and note, at times joining in with choruses and claps. There were several special moments during the show including the appearance of Richard Hawley who co-wrote and performed ‘When She Finds You’.

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