Thursday 18 July 2019

Review: M People’s Heather Small is a huge talent

Pop: M People, Vicar Street, Dublin

Heather Small from M People.
Heather Small from M People.
Eamon Sweeney

Eamon Sweeney

While Heather Small is the voice of 90s dance pop superstars M People, she is best known as the one with the pineapple head hair-do in Mike Pickering's slinky soul pop group.

Small appears to have remarkable staying power as a box office draw, buoyed by the Olympics association of her solo song 'Proud' and the M People anthem 'Search For The Hero'.

Her Vicar St appearance is a reminder of just how many big singles M People had in their heyday, plus just how well their music has aged.

Small bounds on-stage to 'One Night In Heaven', which immediately gets an enthusiastic crowd on their feet. Her wonderful hairstyle is as spectacular and impressive as ever, but the real star of the show is her unmistakable voice; a gutsy soulful croon that sounds like no one else back in the 90s... or today.

She prefaces a cover of 'Pearl's A Singer' by Elkie Brooks by paying tribute to the "sound and texture" of the Salford singer's voice.

Small shares her distinctive huskiness, but in the spirit of all the best cover versions, she makes the song her own. Small also owns renditions of Michael Jackson's 'Rock With You' and Whitney Houston's 'I Wanna Dance With Somebody', while also unveiling a version of 'Valerie' by The Zutons, which is almost as good as Amy Winehouse's.

'Search For The Hero', 'How Can I Love You More?' and 'Moving On Up' ensure there isn't a lull or dull moment in the set, keeping the crowd on their toes and hollering for more.

In an age when 90s nostalgia is omnipresent and sometimes slightly embarrassing, Small proves if you put on a fantastic show with a great voice and set list, the rest is gravy.

She reveals she has an affinity with the Irish, as her son was born on St Patrick's Day. M People would have headlined the Point in their heyday and Small hasn't lost any of her ability to have a capacity crowd eating out of her hand with a euphoric singalong of soul pop.

Irish Independent

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