As the house lights went down at Shepherds Bush Empire in London on Thursday night (June 1st), fans of British pop stalwart Louise unanimously leapt to their feet in support of the singer whom they have lovingly championed for the last three decades!
First announced back in February to commemorate the release of her brand new Greatest Hits album (released yesterday via Tag 8 / BMG), “An Evening with Louise” saw the Lewisham-born star perform a dazzling mix of some of her biggest solo hits, along side a selection of reimagined classics from her time in R&B girl band Eternal, and fan-requested rarities from previous albums “Naked” and “Woman In Me”.
Hosted by former Smash Hits magazine editor, turned media personality and presenter Kate Thornton, the celebratory evening served as the perfect career retrospective for Louise, who at various points throughout the night sat down with long-term friend Thornton to reflect upon her life story thus far.
Kicking off proceedings with the song that launched her career back in the September of 1993, Louise’s sultry version of the classic Eternal track “Stay” caught the attention of fans both old and new right away, its evocative yet progressive production by Steve Anderson reflective of the singers desire to to reinterpret her back catalogue, through a modern-day lens. Follow up “So Good” (rather poignantly one of Louise’s final single releases with the band) continued to raise the energy levels in the room, with the new take of the irresistibly feel-good track sounding unmistakably more vibrant and joyous than the original version featured on the groups quadruple Platinum selling album, “Always & Forever”.
Prior to performing the third number on the thoughtfully curated 22-song set-list, Kate returned to the stage to walk audience members through the beginnings of Louise’s solo career, addressing her departure from Eternal as well as delving into the backstory behind her brave decision to go it alone, before the lady of the hour delivered a beautifully emotive, stripped back rendition of debut solo single “Light Of My Life” – captivating the crowd further with her impressive vocal range, and super rich, soulful tone.
From there the West End star of 9 To 5 The Musical and Grease, took audience members on an exhilarating whistle stop tour through the 90’s and into the early 00’s, performing much loved hits “In Walked Love”, “2 Faced”, “Naked” and “Pandora’s Kiss”, before being joined on the mic by fellow 90’s pop princess Michelle Gayle for a rousing duet of the Eastenders legends 1994 smash hit single, “Sweetness”.
By the start of the second act, the overall pace of the show showed no signs of slowing down, with Louise delivering knockout performances of recent tracks “Hammer” and “Stretch” (both lifted from 2020’s critically acclaimed “Heavy Love”), before her old school friend, and former Eternal bandmate Kéllé Bryan made a surprise appearance during fan favourite “Crazy”. Despite being the pairs first public performance together in 28 years, their undeniable chemistry and genuine joy at being reunited in song was evident for all to see – with neither missing a beat, nor a dance step, as they playfully riffed and harmonised along with backing singers Bianca Claxton, Caity McHale and Vicky Tola.
Whilst the promotional campaign surrounding the release of a traditional greatest hits collection relies heavily on leaning into the nostalgia of an artists past, Louise has gone to great lengths to make it clear that her focus remains firmly fixed on the future, and so the inclusion of two of the new records original cuts towards the end of the set seemed both fitting and purposeful, with the 80’s funk of “Super Magic” and gospel influence of “High Hopes” perhaps foreshadowing what fans can expect to hear next from the singer.
Closing the night right with an epic run of wall-to-wall bangers including Eternal’s “Just a Step From Heaven”, and “Arms Around the World”, as well as a cover of Diana Ross’ epic 1979 Motown hit “The Boss”, Louise returned to the Shepherds Bush stage one final time to perform her version of the Average White Band’s “Let’s Go Round Again” much to the delight of the hyped, sold out crowd.
As a seasoned professional, with over 30 years worth of performance experience to her credit, Louise confidently commands the attention of the entire venue throughout the course of the two-and-a-half-hour show with unequivocal ease – her obvious joy at being back on stage reflected in the smiles on the faces of those in the audience who seem genuinely thrilled to be witnessing her truly remarkable, and triumphant return to the world of pop.
However it’s perhaps the evenings more intimate moments, and those punctuated conversations with Kate slotted in between songs, telling the story of how a young girl from Lewisham in South London fought her way up through the ranks of show business to become one of the U.K.’s most enduring female pop performers that resonates most with fans. Not because of the fame, the glitz and the glamour, but because they maybe see something of themselves in both Louise’s victories and struggles.
“I’m so grateful to each and every one of you guys for coming out and supporting me tonight, I can’t thank you enough!” the seemingly overcome singer told the crowd to thunderous cheers and applause during the closing moments of the show. “I need to take a minute to process all of this – but all I can say is, I love each and every one of you, and again… thank you!”
Taking one last look at the audience before making her exit, it’s obvious the enormity of the occasion is not lost on Louise, who has openly admitted that for many years she believed her days of making music were well and truly over. However, with the support of her team, and having put in the hard work off-stage to reclaim both her confidence, and sense of self-worth, the singer now continues to build upon the momentum she’s created since stepping back onto the scene back in 2017.
Humble, gracious and utterly resilient, Louise is a formidable talent, whose love of music and performing shines through even on the darkest of days. And after witnessing her coming of age performance in London on Thursday night, we cannot WAIT to see what she does next…
Louise’s brand new Greatest Hits album is out now.