Craig David, Somerset House, London

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The Independent Culture

Tonight, however, David attempted to break free of the shackles of being "nice" and appeared to be staging a low-key resurrection of his career in this country. After the colossal global success of his debut album, the soft, breezy nu-soul of Born to Do It, in 2000 and the reasonably successful and more club-orientated 2002 follow-up effort, Slicker Than Your Average, David somehow lost credibility. This must have been in no small part down to Bo Selecta's relentless ribbing.

Backed by a wonderfully funk-infused band, the Southampton crooner came across tonight like an unusual mixture of Luther Vandross, Prince and Will Smith with varying degrees of success.

In one of many efforts to bond with the modest and well-heeled crowd, David told "the London terrorists" to "f**k off". The statement was ill-judged, the girls at the front (who screamed throughout, even when David unnecessarily grabbed his crotch during "7 Days") and the rest of us would have appreciated more music and less "banter".

When David was in full flow - as on his number one single "Fill Me In" and the infamous "Re-Wind" - he was a dazzling proposition. His vocal range proved astonishing and his popular "Walking Away", with its slight folky feel, sounded exquisite live. Nevertheless, rather than allowing his sublime voice and his ardent band do the talking, David continued to explain his material, excruciatingly so on the diabolically cheesy lament "Don't Love You No More (I'm Sorry)" off the new album The Story Goes.

Ultimately, David proved he's still a gifted performer, and while the material off the new album reeks of R Kelly schmaltz, his energy and easy-going charm remain undimmed. Give him 20 years and the country will no doubt embrace him like we did Cliff Richard. Sorry Craig, couldn't resist having a pop, you're such an easy target.