Belinda Carlisle, St David’s Hall

October 7, 2019 by


Carlisle’s Cardiff concert is a Runaway success

It is a particularly wet autumnal night in the Welsh capital, as fans, fonder of the musical beats of Summer Rain, make their way to see Belinda Carlisle’s Runaway Horses 30th Anniversary Tour in St David’s Hall.

Runaway Horses was Carlisle’s third solo album release, just managing to squeeze into the ’80s with its release in October 1989. Almost thirty years to the date later, the tour promises to deliver every track off the tour’s eponymous album and more.

Helping to warm up the slowly drying out audience is support act, Emergency Tiara. A quirky New York city-based five-piece, fronted by the Juri Junnai, they treat us to an enjoyable thirty minutes of fun pop, confident vocals and an Austin Powers inspired wardrobe. Stand out numbers include the new single, ‘2 Kool 4 Skool’, from their album’ Unsophisticated Circus’, and final feel-good track, ‘Karaoke Party’.

It is, however, a west-coast girl that the audience is here to see tonight. As the house lights dim, Carlisle’s travelling band jovially launch into the opening bars of The Beach Boys’ ‘California Girls’. Could there be a more apt entrance for a lady whose voice, charisma and energy have in no way diminished in the three decades since the tour’s album release?

With a warm “Good Evening Cardiff” and a quick sense check that it is indeed a Monday night, the set begins with the album’s headlining song, ‘Runaway Horses’, before seamlessly continuing into chart hit ‘(We Want) The Same Thing’.

Carlisle seems confident and relaxed as she dances barefoot in a sparkly black and gold tunic and trousers. Her band are focussed and professional, with the interaction confined to an occasional smile and reassuring nod. Carlisle clearly has a genuine rapport with her adoring fans, and informs those that don’t know, that Bryan Adams collaborated with her on ‘Whatever It Takes’. We find out later that George Harrison provided guitar playing services for the album as well.

Four tracks in, and as the opening bars of ‘I Get Weak’ ring around the auditorium, the lady in the spotlight takes a moment to look up at the tiers of fans above her. A genuine smile of appreciation beams back to those shrouded in the darkness of the gods, before embarking on a pitch-perfect delivery of this Top 10 hit from the ‘Heaven on Earth’ Album.

As the night progresses, she explains the love-hate relationship she has had with some of the ‘Runaway Horses’ album tracks. She shares how dusting them down for the current tour has helped her find a new fondness for them.

Throughout the night, the occasional fan jumps to their feet to dance to their favourite hook or chorus. It is, however, the advent of ‘Summer Rain’ under St David’s Hall’s roof, that brings more of the house to their feet. Two songs later and everyone is dancing, unable to resist the anthemic calling of ‘Leave A Light On’.

On some of the tour’s dates, the former Go Gos and Fun Boy Three track, ‘Our Lips Are Sealed’, has been given a runout. But this was not to be the case tonight, as the main set comes to a rapturous close with ‘Live Your Life Be Free’.

Carlisle has managed not to put a barefoot wrong in 90 minutes of retro classics joy. The Cardiff crowd is finally rewarded for their patience with a second encore of the gold-selling number one, ‘Heaven is a Place on Earth’.

The night is rounded off with the final track of the tour’s album, ‘Shades of Michelangelo’, to complete the promised full playlist of Runaway Horses. Job done.

The audience shows the warmth of their appreciation with a standing ovation, before bracing themselves to head back out into the capital’s cooler, but drier, evening.

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