Four years on from her run on The X Factor, Rebecca Ferguson begins her UK tour with the same humility that won her fans during the show.
Seated to the side of the stage, she begins bluesy number “Fake Smile” with her head tilted, looking down at the floor, leaving the audience to wonder if she’s outgrown her characteristic shyness.
Watching her live, it is harder than ever to believe that such an assured voice, laced with a huskiness that conveys a shattering depth of emotion, can come from the shy Scouser.
“How are yous doing tonight?” she coos, before continuing with “I Hope” from new album Freedom, a soulful wish for an ex-lover to find happiness.
Dressed in a full-length blue lace dress with plunging neck-line, Ferguson looks every bit the diva, but presents a range that shows she has grown from her Saturday night TV ballad slot.
From the Winehouse-esque “My Freedom”, to the bluesy “You’re Too Good To Lose” and the funk-inspired “All That I’ve Got”, Ferguson’s voice is effortlessly versatile, while only occasionally harking back to the more Noughties sounds of Gabrielle and Macy Gray.
The highlight of the night is her cover of Katy Perry’s “Roar”, another track that delights, if only because it is so pleasing to see how much more talented the mum-of-two from Liverpool is compared to the all-American pop star.
Her musical style may still be evolving, a reason perhaps why she has not had the same level of commercial success as some of her more “sellable” X Factor contemporaries, but it’s clear Ferguson is easily the greatest talent to emerge from the show.
She may not have won in 2010, but she’s winning now.