Opening the night with a cover of Cream’s “I Feel Free”, Belinda Carlisle danced her way on stage as the crowd in The Star Theatre came alive with cheers. The 59-year-old singer was in town last Saturday night to celebrate the 30th anniversary of Heaven On Earth with her fans. And what a great party it was.
Despite heavy rains that evening, fans arrived early and were at their seats before 8pm, armed with snacks and beers from The Star PAC’s concession stands. I was running late from a meeting I had earlier, and felt extremely grateful to the helpful ushers who efficiently led me to my seat. I was, however, hungry and the delicious smells wafting around didn’t help.
“This is all music from my era,” a gorgeous Korean lady seated beside me whispered conspiratorially, “Can you guess my age?” she laughed, as the lights in the auditorium dimmed and the band came on stage. And from that moment on, I barely had a chance to breathe or think as song after song brought me back in time.
Taking a quick break to welcome everyone and introduce the tour, Carlisle immediately dove into “Nobody Owns Me”, “World Without You” and “I Get Weak”. The band was tight, pumped with propulsive rock energy and together with Carlisle’s now-huskier vocals, their performance was a slightly edgier take on the best of the 80s.
It was impossible not to smile when the delighted fans sang along to “Circle In The Sand”, and as the guitar solo arced powerfully over the bridge, it simply charged the atmosphere further. However, the band was merely warming up. Carlisle next sang “Fool For Love”, her voice hitting the high notes well, solidly backed by vocals provided by her band. Their lush sounds filled the auditorium and that was when they dropped the first major hit of the night.
“Who remembers the Runaway Horses album?” Carlisle teased the crowd as many began screaming in excitement. “Well, this is my favourite song. Summer Rain.” Unable to restrain themselves any longer, the crowd jumped out of their seats, singing and dancing along. The obvious happiness of the fans was palpable and contagious.
I was dancing along with them when, for a split moment, I grew concerned for the trio of grandmothers behind me. Was I blocking them? I turned around to see them clapping and singing along, still seated, watching the action on the video screens.
Relentless in their energy, Carlisle and her band next performed “La Luna” and “Should I Let You In”. Her vocals interplayed with the bass and drums wonderfully, losing none of the intricacies in the music. Amid the wall of sound, I could still hear her tambourine jingle and the guitarist’s fancy finger work. Then, as if she knew the crowd needed a break to get sentimental and romantic, she took things down a notch with a beautiful, heartfelt rendition of “Vision Of You”, followed by “We Can Change” and “Valentine”.
Just when things were getting cosy, the band got everyone back on their feet with the fist-pumping anthem “(We Want) The Same Thing” and ended their set with “Leave A Light On” and “Heaven Is A Place On Earth”. The fans went wild. So much so that when they thanked everyone for coming that night and left the stage, the fans managed to bring them back for two encores, where they performed “Big Scary Animal”, her first single “Mad About You”, “Live Your Life Be Free” and “Love Never Dies”.
Belinda Carlisle was not a chatty performer. Neither did she involve the audience a lot in music interplay. However, she didn’t really need to. With her music, her unique vocals and her amazing band, she did what she promised with this tour. She brought heaven on earth for one night.
Photo credits: Mode Productions