Three loud and proud vocal legends turn it up to 11 as they explain how they got together for a touring celebration of sisterhood!
We hear them before we see them. The three women striding across the courtyard of BBC Television Centre in West London are exuding enough oestrogen – no, let’s call it tes-sisterone to power a small city. The turbocharged voices of Lulu (diminutive, all in white), Heather Small, late of M People (Amazonian, all in black) and Anastacia (statuesque, in black and white) are drowning out the sounds of traffic, which will be reassuring to those who’ve bought the cheapest seats for their forthcoming sisterhood soul revue Here Come the Girls, back for a second run after its sellout debut last year (when the original line-up included Chaka Khan, now replaced by Heather). Yes, these girls can P-R-O-J-E-C-T.
This time we’re louder, yells Lulu, as they clamber into the cab.
This time we’re prouder, bellows Anastacia. We’re starting at 11 and cranking it up from there.
Our cabbie, Paul from Uxbridge, shoots me a stricken look and quietly turns off his intercom.
Fittingly, the 2010 incarnation of Here Come the Girls is bigger and brasher, with a £1 million stage set, a seven-piece band, and new songs, sequences and routines. Of course, the whole extravaganza stands or falls on the interplay between its front-women – so how’s the chemistry shaping up?
We need to outdo Lady Gaga. How many costume changes does she do – nine or ten? We'll do 12!
It’s awful, says Anastacia, wrinkling her nose. Will we make it to opening night? She beams. Get out of here! I knew I’d like Heather before I even met her.
Heather attended last year’s tour as a punter. As soon as the ladies came out, they gave it their all, and the audience were with them, she enthuses. The first time I met Anastacia, she gave me a warm hug, not a showbiz hug.
The show was Lulu’s brainchild, or, as she calls it, all my fault. She adds, I did a couple of concerts with friends, and we had such fun, and I thought, why not turn this party into a tour where the audience can stand up, rock out, and come out thinking, What a great night ?
This philosophy is helped along by the kind of roof-raising anthems – I’m Every Woman, Sisters Are Doin it for Themselves – that had last year’s audiences swinging in their stilettos, aided this time out by the addition of Heather’s M People back catalogue (Search for the Hero, What Have You Done Today, etc).
With Chaka Khan deciding she wasn’t up to the rigours of a second go-round, it falls to Heather to play the stormin soul sister. She seems energised at the prospect of sharing the stage with her generously-lunged peers. I just kept knocking till they let me in,’she grins.
She’s got the cojones, declares Lulu. While there are a lot of females who want to join us, there are certain ones who wouldn’t do it. She’s one of us, she beams at Heather. She’s disciplined, with a similar drive.It’s not rivalry, it’s camaraderie, explains Heather. We all love to perform. We’ve got no product to sell – we’re singing live on-stage just for the hell of it.
No Auto-Tune for us, declares Lulu.
What about the routines – will it be all headsets and oiled-up backing dancers? Anastacia appears to be genuinely taken aback. We have to sing, honey,’she protests. We’re not Beyoncé. But I think there’ll be a few costume changes.
We need to outdo Lady Gaga, cries Lulu. How many does she do – nine or ten? We’ll do 12!
It’s easier for her, right? She’s only wearing a bra and pants to start with, points out Heather.
This seems an appropriate moment to ask if they expect any men to come to the shows. A lot came last year with their wives, asserts Anastacia. They were dragged in…
The gay guys were in their feather boas before the show even started, adds Lulu.
A relieved-looking Paul drops us off after the photo shoot. But Lulu has a parting shot: Women together are great, the best, the strongest, she pronounces. We are the power.And when you get three together? Unstoppable.
The Here Come the Girls UK tour will start on 22 November in Edinburgh : for full details visit gigsandtours.com