"Before The Rain" tour
Review of "Before The Rain" tour, Manchester Arena
By: Janet Valentine
Date: 2nd April, 1997
Lorraine Cato was excellent and luckily had no technical hitches unlike at Glasgow. I can see her becoming a big star, and me becoming a big fan.
Human Nature - well, they could sing, but I thought their stagework was in need of some sophistication. However the seventies trip I absolutely loved - 'Stomp' was a big hit in my 'disco days' and the boys did this really well.
When the girls came on, the running order seemed to be the same as at Glasgow, except 'Save Our Love' also had vocals from the backing singers. I'd agree with the notion that there seemed to be a certain lack of atmosphere, compared with previous shows at the much smaller Apollo. Lack of intimacy and too many disinterested spectators, many of whom probably came along on complimentary or corporate tickets. Such is the way of the Arena, I'm afraid.
The girls talked to the crowd, but there was little interaction (none of the "Say Yeah, Say Easther"). They also had problems with the sound system. It sounded too bassy, and some of the best melodies and vocals, including 'Good Thing' and 'Secrets', were drowned out. The girls also had trouble with their mikes and earpieces several times.
The remix of 'So Good' sounded like a faster version of the Joe and Pain remix from the single (CD1), which unfortunately didn't sound so great.
I thought 'How Many Tears' was one of the best parts of the show. I'm only sorry they didn't perform more than the four tracks (if you include 'Someday') from the new album, which is what the tour is primarily intended to promote after all. I would have liked to see them medley some of their earlier hits in order to leave more time to showcase newer material.
My Mum came along, and wasn't impressed! OK, so I don't need her approval of who I like, but I think that with some technical improvements to the show and a more representative spread of their music, she might have been more inclined to enjoy her first impression of the band. Easther's solo 'I am Blessed' was spoiled for me by a girl who refused to sit down when everyone else in the block had done so. Being near an end seat, I asked a steward to request that she sit down, but he refused (the Arena bluecoats can be worse than useless sometimes).
Kéllé's tap dancing was confined to the top of the boxes, not inside as in other shows on the tour, and I would have preferred to see her do one of her new tracks, 'I'm Still Crying' or 'All My Love'.
Though at first I also thought the choice Vernie made was odd, I think she did well with the song. Again I would have preferred the solo style she'd given us before. I guess maybe she didn't want to become typecast in that musical role.
I was disappointed that they didn't do a tribute/spoof of other acts like the Supremes/Jacksons medleys on previous tours, but I've been racking my brains to think who they could have done - perhaps they couldn't think of anything either!
There was little build up to the encore and though all three songs were pretty good, the girls seemed to disappear rather unceremoniously afterwards, leaving the crowd a little flat. The girl who had stood up in front of me left rather sharpish, perhaps anticipating that I was going to give her a piece of my mind!
Obviously I'm glad I went, and it was great to see them again, though I have grumbled a bit here. I guess it was just my personal opinion about some aspects of the show, and one unfortunate experience, that has coloured my judgement a little. If you've yet to see them perform live, don't let it put you off!