Earlier this year Steps singer Claire Richards released her long-awaited debut solo album during the pop group’s hiatus. A strong collection of proper pop songs My Wildest Dreams, which we recently named our pop album of the year so far, showcases Richards’ powerful voice in ways we haven’t had chance to hear before. Following a short headline tour towards the end of 2018, Richards is back out on the festival circuit this summer and last night she was one of BST Hyde Park headliner Celine Dion’s special guests.
After her performance Richards told me that she incredibly nervous before she got onto the stage but from the audience perspective you couldn’t tell. Launching into the upbeat 7 Billion, Richards got off to a strong start and she warmed the audience up nicely following The Wandering Heart and coming before Josh Groban and Celine Dion. The set list for the performance was a mixture of songs from My Wildest Dreams, a couple of well-chosen covers and of course, some Steps classics.
The first of the Steps songs was One For Sorrow, which Richards transformed into a beautiful ballad, stripping away the pop production of the original track. It got the audience singing along and it led nicely into the excellent End Before We Start, which features of My Wildest Dreams. Both songs allowed Richards to show the power and range in her voice, and she sounded magnificent. As the start of My Wildest Dreams began, Richards stopped her band after coming in too early, which she joked about with the audience. By the song’s end, she was visibly moved by both the audience reaction and the enormity of being on the same bill as Dion.
Continuing to wow with her vocals, Richards launched into These Wings – a song she has said is her favourite from her solo album – and the heights she soared with her powerhouse voice were truly remarkable. The tempo switched to up again for a great version of Step’s Deeper Shade of Blue before Richards put her own spin on Lewis Capaldi’s Someone You Loved, which to be honest was better than his version in my opinion! Shame On You, the biggest uptempo pop moment on My Wildest Dreams, came next and as the sun shone down over Hyde Park, the packed audience danced their socks off.
The Diane Warren-penned Don’t Leave Me in This Love Alone, a song that you could easily imagine being sung by Celine, was a big moment that once again proved that Richards is one of the UK’s finest vocalists. For her final two songs of the day, Richards performed a cover of Laura Branigan’s Gloria, which went down a storm, and her debut solo single On My Own. The latter’s stomping beat in the mid-section got everyone clapping, singing and cheering.
With her Steps band members Lee Latchford-Evans and H in the audience, Richards really did herself proud at BST Hyde Park. She went down an absolute storm and she was vocally flawless. Following her set, Josh Groban requested to meet her so he could tell her how fantastic she’d been on stage and when Celine Dion took to the stage later, she also praised Richards’ performance. Richards’ performance was an absolute triumph and a testament to her incredible ability as a vocalist, and the high quality of her fantastic solo album.
Set list: 1. 7 Billion 2. One For Sorrow 3. End Before We Start 4. My Wildest Dreams 5. These Wings 6. Deeper Shade of Blue 7. Someone You Loved (Lewis Capaldi cover) 8. Shame On You 9. Don’t Leave Me in This Love Alone 10. Gloria (Laura Branigan cover) 11. On My Own Performance date: 5th July 2019