When reviewing Culture Club’s show at the Motorpoint Arena last November, I was particularly blown away with Belinda Carlisle’s set. I commented in my review at the time that I hoped she would return to Wales soon headlining her own show. Just short of 11 months later, Miss Carlisle returned to Cardiff, this time in celebration of the 30th anniversary of her third solo album, 1989’s Runaway Horses.
The show, commenced at 8pm with a set from New York band, Emergency Tiara. Featuring a guitarist and drummer that had the look of 1950s rockers and three girls dressed in 60s stylised dresses with long silver boots, the band were fun, energetic and featured a few karate punches in their choreography. Fronted by Japanese singer Juri, Emergency Tiara paid homage to the original 1960s girl group sound as they performed original songs 2 Kool For Skool, Explode and Karaoke Party and a cover of the Sugababes’ You on A Good Day.
After a half hour interval, American singer-songwriter, Belinda Carlisle took to the stage with her five-piece band opening with the power-pop of Runaway Horses. Sounding (and looking) incredible, Belinda continued to perform songs from the celebrated album, including Whatever It Takes, Vision of You, Valentine and Leave A Light On while mixing the set-list up with other favourites I Get Weak and Circle In The Sand.
There was a nod to the late George Harrison who had originally contributed guitar on the track Deep Deep Ocean, a track Belinda revealed as to “Falling in love with again, even though I wasn’t in love with it originally”. Belinda went on to explain she had loved the original demo but “sometimes things get lost in the mix”. Any dissatisfaction wasn’t apparent in the performance as she drifted around the St David’s Hall stage in her bare feet, clearly absorbing the growing appreciation from the audience.
By the time Belinda came to perform La Luna, We Want the Same Thing and Summer Rain, the fans were out of their seats, dancing and reconnecting with great music! The feelgood factor continued to rise with performances of her first solo single, Mad About You, along with later hits Live Your Life Be Free and Big Scary Animal.
Her UK No.1 Heaven Is A Place on Earth could easily have closed the show, but there was still one further track from Runaway Horses to perform, the beautifully presented Shades of Michael Angelo.
Undoubtedly, Belinda Carlisle and her band were a hit with the Cardiff audience, celebrating not only her original Runaway Horses album, but also the style, presence and magic of a live performance.
My only criticism is I could have happily carried on hearing her sing more tracks from her back catalogue for at least another hour! Here’s hoping Belinda Carlisle leaves a light on for a return visit to Wales in the future!