Let's get straight to the only reason I'd be seen dead in a grotty backstreet of England's second city. In between a derelict building and the back end of Nightingales club was the home of the Main Stage of 2009's annual gay pride event, only made classier by the council emptying the portaloos while Tina Cousins was on and the pools of vomit scattered around. Yes, this is the premier event locally and it has to be said that the lineup was well worth the effort!
Norma Lewis was the first act I saw. All of the performers did about three songs each - this was a blessing in many cases, and Norma was no exception. Her flat karaoke rendition of Donna Summer's On The Radio was too much to suffer though, although her new songs were okay. I really turned out to see Nicki French. I've been a big fan of hers since 1995, but hadn't seen her live in all that time. The lady did not disappoint! This year all the acts sang live and it made all the difference, Nicki gave it her all, sporting a purple dress and rainbow heels which perfectly complimented the stunning weather, if not the grotty surroundings. Total Eclipse of the Heart was first and Nicki nailed it, it was a nice long version with all the wailing and warbling that Nicki fans know and love, there were even a few dance moves - such as a spin to emphasise the 'Turn Around's', there was plenty of audience participation too. Next up was her Eurovision entry, Don't Play That Song Again, which was loved by all - the crowd was singing along and enjoying every minute of it, me especially.
Then Nicki performed her new single, No Smoke, a mid-tempo rock song, and a new direction for one of Britain's biggest exports. Remixes were promised, and although not what you'd expect from Nicki, it went down pretty well, and with that Nicki took her bow and it was time for the next act. I was lucky enough to meet Nicki after her set and get a picture with her - she was lovely, I only wish she'd have done a few more songs. She had quite a few groupies back stage, it was nice to see so many fans supporting her.
After this I took a little break out from the main stage and took in a few sights and a few cocktails before returning for Kelly Wilde! I was already a fan of Kelly's lively hinrg interpretations of pop classics like Laura Branigan's Gloria and Blondie's Maria. But a mere CD can't possibly convey the passion and energy that Kelly has for her music. Her manic rendition of Bonnie Tyler's Holding Out For A Hero was nothing short of jaw dropping. Kelly's flame and blonde hair-do was a perfect embellishment to compliment her on-stage persona and she can rock a mike-stand like no diva I have ever seen. She belted out every note and the crowd loved her, I was stunned! She did Gloria next an that went down very well too! I wish I'd got to meet her, she was fab! I hope she brings out some new stuff soon.
After suffering through a dreadful drag queen singing Can't Take My Eyes Off You, 90's chart toppers Baby D (well the vocalist at least) came to the stage and performed an extremely long version of their hit I Need Your Loving and of course Let Me Be Your Fantasy, which rocked. I was surprised at how edgy the song sounded compared to the other stuff that had been played that day.
Shena was up next, I think! She's the vocalist on that dreadful I Can't Wait For The Weekend To Begin song. Her other material wasn't much better, she did look quite striking in an aluminium leotard though. I remember having one her 90's singles - More Than Woman which is well worth tracking down.
Some more drinks....
As I emerged from somewhere or other I spotted someone on the stage, but I couldn't quite place them. It was none other than Tina Cousins performing her new single Sex On Fire (it was crap!), Pray was pretty amazing though.
Now for the headliners!!! Katarina from Katarina and the Waves rocked the stage with a faithful rendition of Robert Palmer's Addicted to Love, all dressed up in leather in full rock chick mode. Love Shine A Light, her 1997 chart topper and Eurovision winner, was absolutely perfect for a pride event, it was amazing. But it didn't stop there, Katarina was the first of any of the acts to come out into the crowd - she sang Walking On Sunshine on a little platform surrounded by hundreds of fans - it was simple but perfect! She was in great voice too. Booty Luv closed the show performing all their hits, and a new song - which was pretty bad! All in all it was a vast improvment on last years miserable festivities!