'Ciao, Milano. Come va?' said in a full-on Rochdale accent is not something you forget in a hurry.
But Lisa Stansfield hasn’t lost her ability to amuse and charm a crowd, as well as impress it with her musical talent.
She managed more foreign words in one gig in Milan than Madonna has in hundreds of concerts around the world. She even handed out slices of pizza to people at the front.
The 90s star is on the comeback trail. Compared with the decidedly less-talented, video-led, tit, bum and tattoo brigade that she’s competing with these days, Stansfield the soul singer and songwriter was a model of class in a long green evening dress on Friday night.
And the voice is back. At her last major outing – Ronnie Scott’s 10 years ago – she sounded croaky. She’s since quit smoking, however, and her famous voice is in splendid form.
There was applause at the end of each track at the small Magazzini Generali venue. But my friend Carlos from Madrid articulated the problem.
“Why do these Milanesi have legni di culo (wooden arses)?” No-one was dancing – underlining the suspicion that Italians might know how to cook, but are less adept at letting their hair down.
“Change” and “Someday I’m coming Back”, with its lovely harmonies, were highlights, though, and things got more boisterous with the inevitable “All Around the World” encore.
But Stansfield took it all in her stride. This was an out-of-town try-out, after all.
Importantly for someone attempting a comeback after a decade, the new material sounded strong. Bentornata!