The Barbican stage was set for a band as big as a football team, smiling in the knowledge they had tricks up their sleeves. Instantly, they locked into an infectious groove, musical director Dave Oliver unafraid to leave space because "feel is the real deal".
Stansfield's back catalogue varies from hard Nineties' dance numbers to hot tunes to make people turn off the telly, and she proved in every line that soul singing is about the way it makes you feel.
Shows usually slump when new material arrives but Hercules ignited Stansfield as she gave the soul diva a number off, throwing down her jacket to allow a 1970s' Iggy Pop to possess and empower her. Stage owned! After an impromptu successful wedding proposal in the crowd, Stansfield went straight into the heartbreaking Hole In My Heart, these six minutes showing her range.
Rather than reheating yesteryear's old favourites, Lisa and her co-writing husband, Ian Devaney, were cooking up new exciting dishes on stage. Deeper was just that. The new material stood out; more aggressive, more beautiful. Billionaire, the BBC Radio 2 favourite, featured flawless four-part harmonies, including the astonishing voice of Strictly star Andrea Grant, who locked into every phrase as if on rails.
The two-piece brass section of saxophonist Mick Donnelly and trumpet player Johnny Thirkell had the power of a four piece, coupled with on-stage chemistry and hilarious Dad dancing. Donnelly's soprano sax to end the show was spellbinding.
Devaney and Stansfield may have written these songs but they soon saw in the 1,500 faces in the Barbican that other people now own them. People often overlook what an outstanding songwriter she is, but All Woman can stand toe to toe with any heart-wrenching Dolly Parton lyric and last night she sang every line like it was her last. That is soul singing.
I can imagine a young Lisa singing into a hairbrush like Little Voice in Mark Herman's film with her rare talent beyond her years. Nobody sounds like her. That depth that rattles your soul is unmistakable. Those effortless runs always avoid playing the picture cards when she can win hands down with something more subtle.
Stansfield is something special. Northern lass. Northern class. Northern soul. That's why this red rose will always be welcome in Yorkshire. Oh...and she also sang a catchy number called Been Around The World too.
Review: from The Press by Ian Donaghy