– by Sean Dillon
Faith, however you may regard it, has been swept aside by many in recent history as something almost trivial. Those of us who hold this notion preach a new dogma, one that is laced with raw cynicism and irrefutable hopelessness. There is no life after the one we walk, and there is certainly no higher-power carving out our collective fates.
Then all of a sudden, we, the followers of cynicism, are confronted by occurrences that leave us questioning everything we hold as truth. We witness something that defies logic and reason – something that is so awe-inspiring that, even for just one second, we contemplate that there may be a power beyond the scope of our own comprehension. It’s as if some carnal instinct of knowingness is resurrected.
Alright, placing an artist and her performance on a biblical-pedestal is somewhat overkill even for a sap like me. I’ll cop that.
But damn, she killed it.
At age 13, and later at 19, Anastacia battled Crohn’s disease. After a series of intensive surgeries, she was left wheelchair bound and needing to learn to walk once more. Anastacia then fought breast cancer in 2003, and once more in 2013, and has since which undergone a double mastectomy.
Anastacia, from its Greek origins, means “resurrection”. It is her way of saying that the new journey she is embarking on both ends and begins, with her. The album and tour were conceived as Anastacia’s rebirth into the industry – an industry which she openly admits she has been disconnected from.
The word also signifies a reversion to the beginning. There is a focus on her signature sound Sprock (a cohesion of soul, pop and rock) that is complemented by a narrative of strength and survival through her lyrics.
Her performance on Sunday the 10th of May at Perth Concert Hall was her last stop in Australia. Although achieving huge commercial success in our country, this was the first time she’d ever toured here. The atmosphere was electric. Many had been waiting a very long time to see her in the flesh.
Anastacia was supported by Perth-born youngster, Jason Ayres. Utilising his huge voice, Ayres’ shared music from his own album, as well as a selection of covers. His supremacy as a guitarist was best highlighted through his adaptation of “Bang Bang”. It was so fantastically constructed that it would likely receive a standing ovation from Nancy Sinatra herself.
After a brief intermission, the lights dimmed and Anastacia’s band fired up. In the darkness they offered morsels of soundbites from her repertoire – adding suspense to the audience’s excitement. With a sturdy collection of hits under her belt, it was hard to decipher how exactly she would open the show.
A spotlight shone on the left of stage which exposed the pint-sized woman in between her two backup singers – all three making a prayer gesture over their microphones. They began the almost whispered introduction of “Left Outside Alone” before Anastacia took centre-stage and unleashed the sheer power of her voice.
It was a sublime validation for the audience. Too often live performances fall short of the expectations we make from perfectly recorded songs in the studio. Anastacia’s recognisable, guttural and grainy voice was no different in person than it would have been had you heard it on the radio. If I didn’t know better, I would have speculated she was lip-syncing.
The 45-year-old looked sensational. Upon the conclusion of the song, she launched straight into “Staring at the Sun,” the first song of her new album. Admittedly, I’d never heard any tracks from Resurrection, which was released in 2014, until that night. It’s a solid song. I wouldn’t say it’s her best work, but it was delivered extremely well.
Unfortunately though, there were some initial audio issues which they eventually smoothed out. For the first couple of minutes of the show, her voice was occasionally lost in the loudness of the band – something quite impressive considering her range.
Anastacia then addressed the audience for the first time. Her mannerisms are both quirky and charming. She was honest without it being tiresome. Having lived through as much as she has, it would be hard not to be positively candid.
Next up was “Sick and Tired”. She tackled it patronisingly, pulling faces and making bizarre moves whilst singing. This was a constant of the evening. You didn’t feel uncomfortable with her approaching such heavy themes because of this, and gave the lyrics the credence they deserved through her beautiful voice.
She then sung “Welcome to My Truth” and “Pieces of a Dream” which were both well received. After this, Anastacia and the band rearranged themselves to form an intimate semi-circle.
As I mentioned before, this was the first time I’d heard any music of Anastacia’s latest album. The songs “Stay” and “Lifeline” were, for me, the most breathtaking segments of the night. Both are huge ballads that poignantly capture Anastacia’s emotions during her second fight with cancer. Hugely moving, the songs allowed her voice to dominate over the softness of the instruments, and the acoustics of the hall allowed every note to chillingly reverberate in your ear.
She ended the saddened mood by launching straight into covers from her It’s a Man’s World album – including AC/DC’s “Back in Black,” and Guns N’ Roses’ “Sweet Child of Mine.”
With the audience fully recharged, she then sung “Defeated,” “Stupid Little Things” and “Paid My Dues” before taking an extremely short curtain-call.
As her backup singers sang “Freak of Nature,” Anastacia clamoured down from the stage and engaged with the audience – taking selfie after selfie with them. She moved through them, singing “One Day in Your Life” as she went.
The moment many had been waiting for finally arrived as the beat of “I’m Outta Love” filled the space.
It was apparent that she was meant to be on stage to perform this, but she’d had a hard time navigating through the seats of the room. She still managed to do it justice whilst walking, and completely let loose when she finally made it on stage.
Both the album and tour have served as a reminder for many that this woman is nothing but talent. It would be a shame to see her pawned off as a forgotten relic of the 90’s when it is visible she has so much more to give. If I were you, I’d dust off any CD of hers that you have in your possession, and let your love for this sensational voice be resurrected once more. Anastacia
Photo Credit: Matthew Picken