Lancashire Times
Weekend Edition
Graham Clark
Music Features Writer
1:59 AM 9th July 2022

A Touch Of Northern Soul Arrives At Lytham Festival

Mick Hucknell. Photos by Cuffe and Taylor
Mick Hucknell. Photos by Cuffe and Taylor
Over the years the north west has introduced the world to artists such as Lisa Stansfield and Simply Red who have been influenced by some of the biggest soul acts of the genre. Returning after a three-year Covid induced break, Lytham Festival brought the two acts to the Lancashire town for a night of soulful sounds.

Lisa Stansfield
Lisa Stansfield
Making her debut appearance at Lytham Festival Lisa Stansfield had to battle with unfavourable weather conditions as a strong westerly wind threatened to dampen the atmosphere. Add to that an audience who had come to see the evening’s headliners and it was a wonder she managed to make such a favourable impression.

Her music is probably best suited to more intimate surroundings, rather than under a cloudy sky, on the wide expanse of Lytham Green and the wind howling around your feet.

Rather than focussing on her big hits the singer dropped in a few album tracks and these might have been lost on the audience - such as the opening number Affection.

All Around The World, the track most people associate with Stansfield, was performed midway through her set, rather than as might have been expected, at the end. As the audience sang back the chorus in unison, they appeared to have forgotten the unfamiliarity of her previous tracks. By the time she reached the closing song, Someday (I’m Coming Back), the earlier lacklustre response from the Lytham audience had turned into something more favourable.

Mick Hucknell
Mick Hucknell
When Simply Red released their Stars album it became the biggest album in the UK in 1991 and 1992 and is still one of the UK’s bestselling albums of all time.

“Turned out nice again” quipped Simply Red’s lead singer Mick Hucknall as the gusty wind gathered even more speed - threatening to blow the singer off stage. The fans were promised the hits and were not disappointed listening to classics as A New Flame, Holding Back the Years – the latter was welcomed like an old friend as the audience sang and cheered loudly.

He might have been stretching his fans imagination when Hucknall asked them to “imagine that you are now back in Jamaica sat on the beach underneath a hot sun” as he introduced Night Nurse. The warmth coming from the stage made things easier as the reggae vibes flowed. Whilst he might be better known as a blue-eyed soul singer the song allowed Hucknall to showcase another aspect of his voice.

Mick Hucknell
Mick Hucknell
Hucknall always had an ear for a good song to cover – his versions of Its Only Love Doing This Thing (Barry White) and Ain’t That a Lot of Love (Homer Banks) sounded as if they had been written for him and sat well alongside his own tracks.

With the party now in full swing it seemed only natural that Something Got Me Started and Fairground should provide the soundtrack to the end of a soulful evening. Even the damp chill in the air did not appear to let the mood down as the fans were treated to a faithful rendition of If You Don’t Know Me By Now.

Simply Red, it seems, are just as willing to please as ever.