The Zodiac, Oxford
2nd May 2005
The most successful and critically-acclaimed former Spice Girl, Melanie Chisholm sold 3 million copies of her first solo album, Northern Star, but was dumped by Virgin after the comparatively poor showing of 2003’s Reason. With true Girl Power, she self-financed the recent Beautiful Intentions. The Zodiac is a relatively lowly venue for the female with the most British number one co-writing credits.
There is no doubt that Melanie can sing. Her voice is immediately recognisable; from the opening number, the title track of the new album, it is clear she can work the microphone. She’s got all the poses – you can tell she was a dancer – and enunciates everything with feeling. The new stuff seems to have very personal and opinionated lyrics; she attacks Pop Idol-type programmes in recent single Next Best Superstar (bitter experience?) and presumably Virgin in next single Better Alone.
The slower Here & Now demonstrates her versatility; she could add her vocals to anything from rock to soul, though at times she lacks the rawness to complement that of her 5-piece band.
It seems as though she has finally found the sound and style to suit her with this album, but the material may just not be strong enough to sustain success in today’s market. She is obviously talented, but just can’t fit herself in: too cheery for rock fans, too rocky for pop fans, and with too much past for those unwilling to forgive her for the Spice Girls.
She is very bubbly and friendly when she talks to the crowd, which somewhat ruins the sexy and sensual persona she takes on during the songs. However, it is clear she has matured. Her past life may forever condemn her to a career of middling success; one hopes she can find the tunes to bring her what she deserves.
From Nightshift, June 2005