+ AJ Brown
Thu 6 December 2018
Doors open: 19:00
£25 adv + cmsn
Entry Requirements: Under 16s accompanied by an adult
“It’s meant to be now. Everything has just fallen into place,” says Claire Richards of launching her solo career with the single On My Own and upcoming album My Wildest Dreams. “I’ve wanted to do a solo record for as long as I can remember, but if I’d tried before, I wouldn’t have been ready and the album wouldn’t have been as good as it is. I really know how to use my voice now and how to look after it – it’s like being an athlete, you have to exercise the muscle. And I really feel like I’ve earned my stripes now.”
Richards’ fans would say that she’s earned her stripes several times over. She signed her first record deal 23 years ago and has achieved enormous success with Steps, racking up 14 Top Five hits, three Number One albums, a BRIT Award and 20 million record sales. The iconic pop group reunited for last year’s acclaimed Tears on the Dancefloor album, which debuted at Number Two, and a hugely popular 22-date sold out arena tour. But now, it’s time for Richards to step into the spotlight alone.
“We’ve just finished promoting and touring the Tears on the Dancefloor album and the plan was always to take a break so we could work on our own individual projects,” she explains. “That’s one of the things that makes Steps work now – we can go off and do our own thing, then come back together again. Everyone in the band has been really supportive about my solo album and it’s been really nice playing them my songs while we’ve been touring together. But I don’t think I want to see any of them at my solo shows because it would make me too nervous – they can hide at the back!”
Richards actually began working on My Wildest Dreams around three years ago when Steps were planning their 20th anniversary tour. She’d recorded the rousing but realistic relationship ballad End Before We Start and realised, “That’s what my solo record needs to be.” So she began gathering tracks for the album written by top pop songwriters including Richard “Biff” Stannard (Spice Girls, Kylie Minogue), Steve Anderson (Britney Spears, Kylie Minogue), Cutfather (Christina Aguilera, Pussycat Dolls), Anne Preven (Katy Perry, Leona Lewis) and Mat Rad (One Direction, Olly Murs).
Along the way, she recorded an emotional epic song called Don’t Leave Me In This Love Alone, which is unmistakably the handiwork of power ballad queen Diane Warren. Richards gives the song the mighty vocal performance it deserves, and says recording it was “a real bucket list moment”.
Richards says every song on the album is one she’s really connected with. “Because Steps is a very specific type of pop music, I was never going to chase that sound as a solo artist. And I’m not a kid any more so it would have been weird if I was standing on stage and singing about going out clubbing. This is definitely a pop album, but I wanted the lyrics to make sense for a woman of my age who’s a mother and a wife. I wanted the songs to mean something, and for every song to have a reason to be on there. The album takes you from being empowered to being thoughtful to being sad to being elated. I just wanted to make a really good pop album that people would want to listen to from start to finish.”
During the recording process, the empowering pop anthem On My Own established itself as the perfect lead single. “But in my darkest hour, I found my inner power, and life is mine for the taking,” Richards sings stirringly in her instantly recognisable voice which a generation of pop fans grew up with. Richards explains that “the song is about getting to a point in life where you’re confident and happy about being where you are. And that’s totally where I am now. Back in the day, I wouldn’t have said boo to a goose. It was easy for me to be in a band because I could hide behind everyone else.”
This newfound confidence can be heard in the track Brave which Claire personally co-wrote with Jez Ashurst and Rachel Furner (Little Mix, Ella Henderson). Explaining the meaning behind the song, Claire describes how “having kids brought out the protective lioness side of me, and that’s carried through to my work life. I used to be terrified about speaking my mind because of what people would think of me. Now I know that if you feel strongly about something, you have to speak up. I couldn’t have made this album without saying yes and no to what I felt was right for me and for the music.”
Richards says she’s also drawn strength from the success of the last Steps tour. “Back in the day, we never sang a two-hour show completely live, but now we do. Knowing that I can do that night after night for 22 shows on an arena tour is a massive confidence boost. I really feel like, ‘Yes! I can do this!””
Richards is now preparing to remind us of her vocal talents again with a series of intimate live shows supporting the album. “I don’t think I’ve ever been as happy as I am now, both in my personal life and my work life,” she says with a smile. “I’m excited to get out there and just be me.”
Margins Cafe will be serving delicious, hot, homemade food at this event. All profits support The Margins Project, which works with people who face homelessness and crisis and is based here at the Chapel.
You must also have a ticket for this event to eat at Margins Cafe.
The Cafe opens to all ticket holders when the chapel doors open, scheduled to be 19:00 for this show.
We’re also taking limited early dinner reservations at 18:30 for this event. Be quick it can fill up fast!
How to book early dinner reservations:
You can book for dinner when buying your ticket through our site.
If the option doesn’t appear then it means dinner is fully booked.
If you have already purchased your ticket for this show you can check availability and book for all dates here.
If there are no tables available it will say ‘We are sorry but this event has sold out.’
Information for people with a reservation:
You’ll get an email with full details shortly before the event, however, you just need to come to the black gate to the left of the main entrance, marked Early Dinner Reservations at 18:30 and show your reservation and gig ticket.
Organic Lemon & Thyme Chicken with Veg
Spinach, Sweet Potato & Lentil Dahl (v)
Red Onion & Goats Cheese Quiche with Salads (v)
Spinach, Red Onion & Feta Quiche with Salads (v)
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