All Saints – Komedia, Brighton – 26th September 2018

Photo by Dan Whitehouse

It’s a rare joy to see an act with such a following perform in such an intimate venue, but that’s exactly the opportunity Nordoff Robbins have been giving fans, bringing huge performers to smaller venues across the UK as part of Get Loud Sessions. For one night only these intimate shows have all raised money for Nordoff Robbins, collecting funding to help those with disabilities enjoy music and changing their lives in the process.

In Brighton, both All Saints and Enter Shikari played sold out gigs, with All Saints performing at Komedia and Shikari at Concorde 2.

As doors opened, there were already lots of fans lining the streets wanting to get a good spot for All Saints sold out performance. The group have established themselves as pop royalty, having released their debut album over 20 years ago and inspired many of today’s pop artists. This year they released their fifth album Testament. It was easy to see why so many wouldn’t want to miss the opportunity to see them for such a special performance.

Despite the lack of support act, they really didn’t need one, as they took to the stage to perform with a backing band. It was actually pretty impressive how they managed to get everyone onto such a small stage! The group stood elegantly, beaming throughout a set which consisted of hit after hit, playing through a great selection of old and new. The colourful lighting was some of the best I have had the pleasure to see at Komedia and really added to the fun, upbeat atmosphere. The crowd were fully involved from the get-go, but as each song passed the atmosphere only heightened. Song choice was spot on and the set felt progressive, the perfect recipe for both casual and more dedicated fans.

Early on in the set they stated how they’d been “scared” to play such an intimate venue, but they needn’t have worried, as they flawlessly projected a confidence and coolness only a group with their reputation and back catalogue could.

As the opening keys of ‘Never Ever’ played, the crowd erupted, to the point even All Saints themselves looked a little taken aback! The excitement only increased as they ran through favourites such as ‘Rock Steady’, Red Hot Chilli Peppers cover ‘Under The Bridge’ and ‘Black Coffee’.

A personal highlight from the set was the band’s innovative track ‘One Strike’ from their comeback album Red Flag. The track’s heavy bass but laid back vibe has a Haim-esque feel to it, building on All Saints’ traditional sound and modernising it.

As the band closed with ‘Pure Shores’ there was a magic feeling in the room. Despite the fact they’ve been playing it for years the group still look thrilled to be performing it and there wasn’t a hand in sight that wasn’t up swaying from side to side. Whether it’s nostalgia or a deeper meaning, these songs clearly mean a lot to their fans and the emotion and excitement spread through the venue as they performed. For a group that have been in the game as long as they have, All Saints seem to have matured gracefully and their vocals and overall performance is unrivalled. It’s safe to say they’re still one of the best girl groups in pop and long may this continue.

Dan Whitehouse