SINCE rising to stardom by delivering technically unimpeachable but emotionally sterile performances on the X Factor, formulaic anthemic ballads such as her coronation song A Moment Like This have been Leona Lewis’s trademark, dominating a polite catalogue which wouldn’t make for the most scintillating set.
But Lewis has made the move to diversify and that was reflected in the valiant mix of material throughout this awkwardly staged show with its constantly furling and unfurling net curtains and whispered perfume ad-style voiceovers.
The chief issue, however, was her comfort level. Straddling octaves is easy for Lewis, but she is a stilted performer, awkwardly cajoling her audience to their feet for mid-paced mediocrity Collide only for everyone to settle back in their seats during upbeat dance number, Forgive Me. Her backing singers were more at ease with the moves – and, to a degree, the vocals – on this and the reggae medley of Better In Time and Rihanna’s Man Down. All credit to Lewis for varying the menu, but this is not her lane.
A couple of Emeli Sande collaborations, I To You and Trouble, injected some much needed drama before she sucked the spirit out of the Bruno Mars’ hit Locked Out Of Heaven with her po-faced piano version.
A trio of tasteful, tremulous ballads, Footprints In The Sand, First Time I Ever Saw Your Face and Bleeding Love, were dispatched precisely to script, but when she returned for the pumping encore of Glassheart, she was like a different performer – free, relaxed and infectious, bashing a snare drum, swishing her glittery cape, working the stage like a natural and, most importantly, having fun.