Sunday, 17 June 2007

In Concert: M People @ Delamere Forest


M People @ Delamere Forest

Belinda Hanks
19/ 6/2007

CREDIBLE pop doesn't get more digestible than M People.

It's feel-good dance for the happy brigade, fronted by a bellowing powerhouse of song in the form of the stunning Heather Small, now the pride of the London Olympics 2012.

They are back! After years without so much as a peep. But this Manchester band's mark on pop is assured: founder Mike Pickering and percussionist Shovel always had a knack for solid rhythms and big, soaring melodies. And their talent was rewarded by numerous Top 10s, a Brit and a Mercury Music Prize for their classic Elegant Slumming album. Follow-up Bizarre Fruit offered more of the funky same.

Since Nineties success, the band have continued to reach a pretty comprehensive demographic. And even dedicated musos can tip their hats to the northeners without having to cringe with mainstream disgust.


Small came on stage looking typically fabulous on Sunday at Delamere Forest, in a silky, bright pink dress and extra- high heels.

The nine-piece warmed up the 5,000-strong picnic crowd with Excited, and while some sat quaffing their wine, many edged forward for classics such as One Night In Heaven, Colour My Love, Open Up Your Heart and Promised Land.

An impressive back- catalogue: and the hits kept coming. It wasn't until anthem Proud, however, that the rugs and hampers got left scattered and welly-wearing revellers threw caution to the wind for a good old bop in the forest. It's a song that has also been adopted by the US' huge gay community and has rocketed a solo Small across the Atlantic.

But it is in Manchester, with M People that her voice belongs. The singer continued her vocal assault with Don't Look Any Further, Ain't Love a Surprise, How Can I Love You More and Fantasy Island. The woods echoed with nostalgia, driven funky house grooves and gospel-influenced melodies that seemed as contemporary as they ever have.
Welcome home.

[ Review]
M People - Delamere
By Lisa Hackett

ONE night in heaven, it certainly was, for the 5,000 M People fans that picnicked in Delamere forest on June 17, 2007.

The atmosphere was fantastic, it almost felt that is was one of those an intimate audience with' We all waited patiently through the support gig who were excellent and warmed us up for Heather Small (singer), Paul Heard (saxaphone) and Shovell (percussion), plus fabulous backing singers.

M People were a British house music act from Manchester which formed in 1990 and were recognised as the first mainstream dance act to marry the excitement of house music to the traditional pop virtues of crafted songs and strong melodies.

I think the forest wildlife couldn't resist a peek either at Heather's opening outfit. She came on singing I'm Coming', in a flourescent pink dress that fitted beautifully over her very well-toned body. And pumped up the crowd with her dance moves getting everyone involved.

They stormed through their greatest hits, one after another. I didn't realise how many there were. One Night In Heaven', Moving On Up', How Can I Love You More?', Don't Look Any Further', Fantasy Island', Sight For Sore Eyes', Just For You', Search For A Hero' and Open Your Heart' which all became part of the soundtrack of The Nineties.

With one more dress change during a superb solo saxaphone and bongo drums acoustic version of Angel Street, Heather returned to give a fantastic farewell second half, singing Colour My Life', Someday', Testify', Love rendezvous' and ending with Walk Away' and my favourite Itchycoo Park'.

The good news is that year after year the Forestry Commission organise these outdoor concerts at forests up and down the country. So if you missed out on going to one of these great places to see live music, with plenty of parking and good access to the concert sites, then there is always next year!

And the even better news, at the end of the three hour long, song after song spectacular show, Shovell stated, "Thank you for staying loyal - It has been 7 years, but M PEOPLE ARE BACK!".

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