Jamelia, Shepherds Bush Empire London

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The Independent Culture

Jamelia replaced the petulant Naomi Campbell at this year's Brits and had journalists likening her to a British Beyoncé, but anyone who can get knocked about by the father of their child, then make a pop hit out of the situation, redefines the term diva. The 23-year-old Birmingham-born artist titled her comeback album, and subsequent NSPCC-adopted hit single, Thank You on these grounds.

After winning a Mobo award in 2000 for the anti-materialist, dancehall-friendly "Money", Jamelia revealed she was pregnant. Four years later, to the opening chords of "Thank You" (her personal "I Will Survive"), Jamelia gracefully slinks on stage with a permanent cheeky smile and endless Miss World-style declarations of, "I'm so excited to be here".

Like Ms Dynamite, Jamelia is concerned with positivity, but she'd rather have fun than be earnest. Her backing band includes two singers who idolise Billie Holiday, and two sprightly, mini-skirted female dancers and their male partners who want to be in Fame. Thanks to their cod dramatics, the performance resembles a West End show rather than a gig.

For "Call Me", from her first album, Drama, Jamelia sits by a white phone. For "Life", the men slouch in chairs while the women berate them for cheating. Tonight's traditional band set-up undermines Thank You's diversity, where Jamelia worked with nine producers and vocalists, including Bubba Sparxxx and Rah Digga, and So Solid's Asher D. Her next single, the haunting "See It In A Boy's Eyes" was written by Coldplay's Chris Martin. We also get a bizarre cover of "one of my favourite songs", Linkin Park's "Numb", which showcases the headier reaches of her superb voice.

Unlike British soul acts like Kele Le Roc and Eternal, Jamelia live doesn't indulge in bouts of saccharine wailing, she has her sights set much further afield. Jamelia intended to come back as an urban artist, but the single "Bout" (which is off tonight's set list) flopped, and it wasn't until she sacrificed her street cred with the much poppier "Superstar", that she started selling records and getting nominated for awards again. "Superstar" has boosted her world sales and wooed the American market thanks to its inclusion on the soundtrack to the TV series Queer Eye for the Straight Guy. Evidently, in Britain it's more popular with six-year-olds who, accompanied by their parents, form a chunk of Jamelia's benign audience.

The anthem is her swansong; Jamelia camps it up in a sequinned dress, revealing hints of the ass that beat Kylie's in a recent Sun poll. As the lights come up and the crowd clap politely, a wholesome atmosphere floats through the air and incidents like her step-brother being charged in connection with the shooting of two girls in Birmingham at New Year are irrelevant. Indeed, nothing in Jamelia's personal life will halt her quest for superstardom.