WIND the clock back to the 2006 X Factor final and immediately after Take That had performed A Million Love Songs with a young singer called Leona Lewis, Gary Barlow turned to Simon Cowell and told him: “This girl is probably 50 times better than any other contestant you have ever had. You have a big responsibility.”
Playhouse, Greenside Place
It would be fair to say the high-trousered one has done right by Lewis. She has broken several sales records since her rise to fame on the ITV show and became the first British female solo artist to top the US charts in 21 years, with Bleeding Love.
At the Playhouse on Saturday to promote third album Glasshouse, it was and it wasn’t hard to see why the London lass, who has sold more than 20 million albums worldwide, has become one of Britain’s most successful musical exports.
That the girl can sing, there’s no doubt whatsoever. She has a voice that spans four octaves and when she hits those stratospheric high notes it can sound more like whistling than singing. Impressive stuff.
But her outstanding vocal ability does not make up for a lack of personality and star power. At least not in the live arena.
Lewis doesn’t have the charismatic stage presence of her peers – Adele and Emeli Sande to name but two – and looked awkward and uncomfortable at times on the Playhouse stage.
It didn’t really help that her costumes were pretty garish – an unflattering floor-length red gown with jutting-out shoulder pads and, later, a pair of high-waisted black trousers even Cowell wouldn’t be seen dead in.
Weird wardrobe choices aside, she had no problem belting out her biggest hits alongside a selection of newbies from recent album Glassheart – highlights being A Moment Like This, Footprints In The Sand, First Time I Ever Saw Your Face and Bleeding Love.
The rest of the concert wasn’t bad, it was mediocre.
In a recent blog, Lewis said that she came close to quitting the tour over the pressure. Maybe she should have. Even her backing singers appeared to be having more fun.
Surely she can do better.