90s nostalgic Richard Loftus talks to Natalie Appleton and finds out why you should see All Saints on their winter headline tour.
A few questions that I need to know... how many people interviewing any member of All Saints have started with that lyric? The opening line to their 1997 smash hit single can set an entire room of 20-30 somethings into the monologue of a jilted lover.
Just a few years ago, one of my best friends and I met in Camden for the girl group’s first live show in over 17 years. We arrived late and struggled to find the best vantage point in the venue until someone who had been a few years below us at college beckoned us over to where her and her friends were stood. Neither Jenny or I had spoken to this person since graduating – there is literally one other person I’ve kept in touch with and it’s our other best friend, Hayley. Jenny and I made eye contact. We knew what the other was thinking: she had a good view of the stage and we didn’t. So we did what anyone else would do. Made small talk and feigned interest until the band arrived.
That night two reunions happened. But I was only interested in one of them.
“We were terrified at first,” says Natalie Appleton, reflecting on the comeback concert. “I thought All Saints was part of my past. It was never something I thought would be my future.”
Following a ten-year hiatus, the band returned in 2016, releasing the Red Flag album which reached No.3 in the Official UK Albums Chart. Then they embarked on a sold out tour of the UK, before a summer of festival appearances in 2017. All Saints also played to over half a million people, as special guests to Take That on their arena tour of the UK.
To date they have sold over 12 million records, won two BRIT awards, had four hit albums and five No.1 singles including ‘Lady Marmalade’. Who has the definitive version of that track though – Labelle, All Saints or the Moulin Rouge soundtrack song by Christina, Mya, Pink and Lil' Kim?
“Oh my gosh! Yeah, it’s us,” laughs Natalie.
Since their rise to fame in the late 90s, the world has changed. Fan mail no longer relies on snail mail. There are now almost 2.5 billion social media users, offering a direct route from fans to celebrities almost instantly.
“It’s a world I didn’t know about, it wasn’t really something I was into. Now I’m becoming a bit addicted to it. I’ve learned so much from social media that’s opened my mind to a lot of things. It’s a great platform.”
And fans, like me, can rest assured that these once combat-clad icons have them in mind when they’re putting together their set lists.
“Even with artists I’m fans of, you just wouldn’t be happy if they didn’t play the old stuff. It’s the whole make-up of your past. It’s nostalgic. It’s important. When I know a song’s coming up that’s a favourite, I look forward to that. I know the crowd’s going to be very happy.
“I get excited for the new routines and the new songs,” she says, but “when my sister [Nicole] says ‘A few questions that I need to know’ and you see her hair flow backwards… it doesn’t get better than that.”
“We’ve matured like a fine wine. We’ve got a great band. We’ve got brass this time which we never had before – it brings a raw element to it, it makes it 3D. There’s nothing better than hearing live music – it’s just a great sound.
“I’m so grateful. We’re all so grateful to be doing this. It’s not a job – it’s fun. We’re lucky. And honoured… and grateful.”
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