Thursday, June 1
O2 Shepherd’s Bush Empire
Louise’s life in pop has taken its share of twists and turns, but the Lewisham-born singer emerged triumphant as celebrated 30 years of hits with a one-off show at London’s O2 Shepherd’s Bush Empire.
It was back in 1993 that the teen star rose to fame as a member of R&B group Eternal, notching up a run of global hits including Stay, So Good and Just a Step From Heaven, before exiting the band and launching a solo career that delivered a string of 12 UK Top 20 singles between 1995 and 2003.
Having taken an extended hiatus from music, she returned to pop in 2017 with her first live show in 15 years, followed by her long-awaited fourth album, ‘Heavy Love’, in 2020. Now, she’s marking three decades in the industry with a huge new ‘Greatest Hits’ LP – much of which featured in her two-and-a-half-hour show.
Hosted by former Smash Hits editor-turned-presenter Kate Thornton, Louise delivered smash after smash, opening with two ‘reimagined’ tracks (courtesy of producer Steve Anderson) from the Eternal catalogue before diving head-first into her solo career and showcasing her impressive vocals on the lush ballad, Light of My Life – her 1995 debut.
Feelgood anthems like Naked and In Walked Love were met with a rapturous response from the energised crowd, while Louise commanded the stage with apt attitude on the classic 2 Faced and kept up the momentum with recent tracks Hammer and Stretch.
Two songs from the ‘Greatest Hits’ – the singles Super Magic and High Hopes – made the set, along with fan-requested deep cuts from her discography, like the ‘Naked’ (1996) track The Best That You Bring and ‘Woman In Me’ (1997) favourite New York Moon.
In addition to belting out an impressive 22 songs over the course of the evening, Louise sat down to reflect on her journey to date and was joined on stage by fellow nineties star Michelle Gayle for a rendition of her Top 5 hit, Sweetness, before her Eternal bandmate, Kéllé Bryan, made a surprise appearance during Crazy, marking the pair’s first performance together in 28 years.
It was one of a handful of poignant moments in the show for the mum-of-two, who frequently referenced her family and made a playful dedication to her sons during Stretch – pointing out it’s their least favourite of her music videos – while oftentimes appearing overcome by the swathe of love and support from the crowd.
Letting loose as she rounded out the night with a killer run of anthems – Eternal’s Just a Step From Heaven, her own Arms Around the World and Diana Ross’ Motown classic The Boss – Louise ended the set with her 1997 cover of Average White Band’s Let’s Go Round Again, celebrating the past with a reassuring nod to the future.
Not only did she tick all the boxes in delivering the perfect live celebration, but Louise proved time and time again that, three decades on, she remains a fine pop star with plenty left to give and legion of fans eager to lap it up.
Setlist: Louise at O2 Shepherd’s Bush Empire, London on June 1, 2023
Stay (Eternal cover)
So Good (Eternal cover)
Light of My Life
In Walked Love
One Kiss From Heaven (with excerpt of That’s the Way Love Goes by Janet Jackson)
Sweetness (Michelle Gayle cover) (with Michelle Gayle)
New York Moon
The Best That You Bring
Stuck in the Middle With You (Stealers Wheel cover)
Crazy (Eternal song) (with Kéllé Bryan)
Just a Step From Heaven (Eternal cover)
Arms Around the World
The Boss (Diana Ross cover)
Let’s Go Round Again (Average White Band cover)