Rebecca Ferguson, The Roundhouse, London
Wednesday 19 September 2012
While One Direction and Cher Lloyd perform big, brassy pop tunes for the younger audiences, another X Factor "loser" of the same year has taken a different route. Steering away from the tabloid headlines, Rebecca Ferguson made a soulful, Motowninfluenced album with a mature sound. Always the X Factor contestant regarded as the "diamond in the rough", with her Liverpudlian heart of gold matched by a soothing and authentic soul voice, she won fans for her authenticity.
Tonight, we see the same Rebecca Ferguson perform at the Roundhouse and while we thought she’d go off, spread her wings after X Factor and become a confident pop star, she plays the night like it’s another X Factor big-band night.
Undeniably, Rebecca Ferguson is a real talent, her vocals are smooth and honeyed with a depth and tone that could melt ice cubes and she hits every note with ease. She waves at her parents in the stalls, complains about her heels (“I wanna put me Ugg boots on”) and introduces each song with a timid and vaguely dull story.
As wonderfully charmingly and childlike as she is, you want to shake her and tell her to stop being so nice and boring - be a diva and give it some welly. It’s hard to watch a show where an overzealous guitarist and the dancing backing vocalists start stealing the limelight from the main act.
Backed by a seven-piece band, it’s certainly a confidence-booster and she performs thrilling renditions from her album Heaven with “Run Free”, “Glitter and Gold” and “Teach Me How to Be Loved”.
This is where her voice really does speak for itself and it fills the space with beautiful pitch-perfection. “I wanna see ya’s all dancing,” she says before “Fairytale (Let Me Live My Life This Way)” and you suspect she might finally let go, but restrains herself.
There are plenty of covers tonight, including Rihanna and Drake’s “I’ll Take Care of You” that gets a clubby breakdown and a rather dull version of Aqualung’s “Strange and Beautiful”.
In a world where the biggest performing artists are Beyoncé and Lady Gaga, it’s clearly not just about relying on the strength of your voice but also performance and inhabiting the stage – that is what makes a good show, great and you keep rooting for the sweet Ferguson to go there. While her voice is continually pitch-perfect and she is charming and warm, you can’t help but wish she would tap into her inner diva to make her live shows as electrifying as her voice.
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