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Anastacia - O2 Apollo, Manchester 27.05.2017

Tonights show takes place a few days after the horrific attack at Manchester Arena. It was always going to be an odd one.

I will start by saying my attendance this evening came with many conflicting thoughts, the whole week right up to putting my keys in the ignition I was trying to figure out if I was ready for this. Fear combined with defiance waged a constant battle in my mind. But I took the leap and here I am. Security is heightened, armed police patrol the streets around the venue. Walking to the venue I see just a few people queuing awaiting doors. As I go through the vigorous bag checks and body pat down I enter the venue and am greeted by an almost ghost like scene. The few already seated sit sombre, there is little to no chatter and the mood is low. I am not used to this at all. I take a deep breath and moments pause and get my game face on, I have a show to photograph.

As I engage in conversation with the security covering tonight event the room starts to fill, the chatter increases. The smiles start to appear. This is the Manchester I know.

There is only one support this evening and that is Chloe Reynolds. A singer/song writer who takes the stage and stands before her keyboard and just smiles and though at first she appears timid, she wastes no time in correcting that misconception. Her short but sweet half hour set is full of raw emotion, with songs that focus on love and hope. In between songs she continues to vocalise on theses themes and each time she is met with cheers and applause. It is a welcome and heartfelt distraction for those in attendance.

As we ready ourselves for Anastacia, I scan the room and am delighted to see a strong attendance. It isn't a sell out, empty seats can be seen all over but that is to be expected. As the lady herself arrives on stage those who are here more than make up for those who are not, the place erupts in a heart warming cheer. Taking to their feet the energy doesn't let off beginning to end. What follows is an evening full of Anastacia's greatest hits, delivered with a precision that only continues to assert why she has lasted so long in the fickle world of music. With classics such as 'I'm Outta Love', 'Sick And Tired' and 'Left Outside Alone' to name but a few, the set is full to brim of hit after hit. On top of this her wit and humour shines as does a heartfelt speech, extended to those in attendance, to Manchester, the lost and those who stand in defiance. It is pure and emotional and I take no shame in saying it made me shed a tear.

I do truly believe you had to be there that evening to understand the range of emotions that many, if not all, were going through. What started out as a sombre and quite low affair ended up being exactly what I've come to expect from the gigs and gig goers of the great city of Manchester. There were gigs taking place all over the city, all over the country, and our ability to unify and be defiant in the face of terror is something very special indeed.

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