Hands up if you were a Steps fan!
I certainly was. Back in the day, I remember going to the area in Newcastle to see their Gold Tour and being in awe of the costumes, dance moves and songs that I'd played on their CD. I think I was about 13 at the time and I went with my best friend from school, filled with excitement and anticipation; I bet we looked so cute!
Little did I know that some 14 years later, I'd be returning to Newcastle for a different kind of Steps experience, An Audience With Faye Tozer.
Musically, Faye is most well known for being a singer in Steps as well as having a career in musical theatre spanning over ten years.
Steps were a five piece group from the UK who topped the single and album charts worldwide, selling over 20 million records. Steps travelled the world together, picking up many awards, including a BRIT Award for the Best British Live Act in 2000, before parting ways after 5 years together as a group.
In 2011, Steps reformed and a 4 part Sky Documentary entitled Steps Reunion, tracked their journey from getting back into the studio to the stage. The show had the highest viewing figures of any Sky show that year and their Ultimate Collection went straight to Number One in the UK album charts.
It was clear that there was still so much love for Steps whether that was from the now twenty and thirty somethings reliving the music of their school days or from the new Steps fans, young and old. They went on a national tour that sold over 80,000 tickets before they were even released for general sale.
Steps are now working on their own projects individually and for Faye Tozer, that means going back to her swing roots.
Much of Faye's early career focused around jazz and swing music so putting together her autobiographical show, An Audience With Faye Tozer, really gives the sense that she has come full circle.
With the backing of the dynamic big band, the Ambassadors of Swing and guest vocals courtesy of the fabulous Jason Isaacs, the show officially launched at BonBar this month and I was there with some of my friends to soak up the action.
The evening started with a couple of glasses of prosecco at the 467 Club, adjacent to Bonbar, before heading into the main venue for supper.
If you've visited Newcastle then you might recognise this place as being the Assembly Rooms which have held functions in the city centre for many years. My graduation ball was hosted here back in 2010 and although the venue was gorgeous then, it is even more stunning now with the relatively recent renovation that created Bonbar.
I'm no stranger to Bonbar, having enjoyed many a cocktail there before heading to concerts and events in the city. It has a real buzz about it with its high class decor, ample booths and superbly well stocked island bar.
It came as no surprise to me that Red Shoe Events, who put together the show with Faye, decided to hold the first event there. Bonbar really encompasses everything that Red Shoe Events are about; a fabulous experience in a high class venue with superb entertainment, delicious food and the best drinks, every time.
We were there as part of the VIP Dinner Ticket package which meant that as well as receiving admission to the show, we were also able to enjoy a two course meal at a prime position table and had a meet and greet with Faye after the live performance.
This was the first time that I had eaten at Bonbar and having chosen my selection from the menu beforehand, I was looking forward to our meal.
I chose the bourbon glazed baby back pork ribs with crunchy slaw for my starter which were sticky and meaty in equal proportions with the creamiest crunchy coleslaw I've had.
That was followed by the most delicious grilled salmon fillet with chargrilled broccoli and new potatoes with brown shrimp and chive butter that complimented yet more prosecco very well. It felt like a huge portion but it was very welcome as it was so tasty. I was pleased that I had chosen to skip ordering one of the optional desserts as although they were presented so well when they arrived to others on the table, I was far to full to even think about a sweet treat!
Now that I've had a opportunity to try the food at Bonbar, I would most definitely go back for a meal and drinks there. I think that it is somewhere Mr WLL would appreciate for a date night and since they regularly have live music there, a night at Bonbar sounds like it would be right up our street!
Following supper, the event really began to gather pace as everyone anticipated the arrival of Faye Tozer, the band and Jason Isaacs. More people began to arrive as not only do Red Shoe Events offer VIP and Dinner Show tickets but they also have seated and standing tickets for those who would rather not dine for the evening.
The show began with an introduction from Alex Morris who, together with Sharon Tenniswood, aka Mrs Jason Isaacs, own and run Red Shoe Events.
They are a relatively new company, born from the wealth of experience that Alex and Sharon have in event planning. They wanted to create an events company with a solid reputation built around a set standard- great food and drinks alongside great entertainment, so that people know what to expect when booking to come along to one of their events.
The whole concept of Red Shoe Events came from the notion that when you put on a pair of red shoes, you're ready to party. They have so many different events coming up that will allow you to do just that, from live music events, comedy nights, singles nights and even a mini festival.
An Audience With Faye Tozer was Red Shoe Events second event and boy were we in for a treat.
Faye took to the stage to a round of applause and effortlessly sang so many swing and jazz hits that have transcended the decades, across two sets with anecdotes from her career and childhood in between each song. She even sang a few modern songs in a swing style from one of Steps hits 'Better The Devil You Know' to Michael Jackson's The Way You Make Me Feel and Pharell Williams' Happy. They sounded just as fantastic as the classic songs she performed.
Faye has a fabulous voice and this genre of music really gives her the opportunity to show off her abilities especially in a live setting with a live band. Its obvious how much she loves to sing this style of music and I think she enjoyed herself on stage as much as we all enjoyed watching her. So many people got up and danced and from the look on everyones faces, they all thoroughly enjoyed themselves. Some could even give those on Strictly Come Dancing a run for their money!
I loved that there was a real mix of people there from those who were Steps fans back in the day like the lovely Laura who had travelled down from Glasgow to meet her idol, to people who just shared a love of swing and, like me, a passion for live music.
Crooner Jason Isaacs sang a couple of songs on his own as well as accompanying Faye to sing on some tracks and to play the saxophone on others. Jason is super talented but I already knew that, having watched him perform at my friends wedding a few years ago. Faye has performed as a guest at some of his shows in the past and now that he was accompanying her, you could see the natural chemistry and stage presence that they have together. Friends sharing their talent and a love of the same music, supported by many of their friends and family who were also in the audience to cheer them on.
Jason Isaacs is seriously amazing and if you're looking for Britain's answer to Michael Bublé for your next big event, then you've found him!
I recorded some of the songs from the evening and have uploaded them onto my Youtube channel. I'd love for you to have a listen to them. I also uploaded a video onto my Facebook page and a short clip onto my Instagram if you'd like to check those out too.
To accompany her captivating performance, Faye wore some gorgeous dresses. She looked absolutely stunning in both of her outfits; a short, prom style for the first set and a full length, strapless gown for the second, elegantly set off by her sparkly jewellery. It was very apparent that Faye felt so comfortable in not only performing this style of music but in her fashion styling as well.
When I met her and Jason after the show, she told me that she had done her hair herself. I have to say, I was impressed. It looked amazing and definitely something that must have taken time and effort to achieve!
The success of An Audience With Faye Tozer is most definitely a sign of things to come as Red Shoe Events are looking to bring the show to more venues and areas. I'd definitely go to see Faye singing again and wish her the best of success with her solo work. You could follow her on Twitter here as I'm sure she'll be posting details of other performance dates on there.
The best way to stay informed with all of Red Shoe Events upcoming shows and events is to follow them on Twitter and bookmark their website here.
Thanks so much for a great night Red Shoe Events, Faye Tozer, Jason Isaacs and the Ambassadors of Swing. I hope to see you again for dinner and a dance very soon!