Dom Joly: Fatherhood is... going to a Leona Lewis concert

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The Independent Online

Sometimes it's really hard to be a parent. I'm very keen that my kids have decent taste in music, so I try my best to expose them to a wide variety of what I consider to be good stuff. I make monthly compilation CDs that I slip into my wife's car so that they can osmose it on their way to origami class. Whenever something terrible and hideous appears on telly, such as the Jonas Brothers or Hannah Montana, I'll try to get them to boo and put their hands on their ears. Basically, I do my best – but a lot still gets through. Part of the problem is television. You only realise once you're a parent that there are very few shows that a family can all watch together and enjoy. Sadly, most of the ones that fit this remit are Simon Cowell products. I like Cowell and do enjoy watching things like X Factor as it's well-produced televisual fodder. The problem is that the music is such unadulterated crap, and I feel as if I can see it seeping into my kids' suggestible brains.

The inevitable conclusion to this was me and Stacey wandering nervously towards the horrible O2 venue in London, my daughter and her best friend hand in hand about to see... Leona Lewis.

I actually like Leona Lewis – weirdly I met her when I was in Beijing at the post-Olympics party. David Beckham, Jimmy Page, Dame Kelly Holmes, along with myself, where all trying to get a photo of... Leona Lewis – because I knew that my daughter would be excited by this. Embarrassingly, I was swatted away by Leona's manager who thought I was a stalker. It got worse when Leona was being interviewed live on Sky News. Kay Burley spotted me and waved to me to join them on air. This I did only to be yanked back off screen by the same manager who clearly thought an assassination attempt was imminent.

When I eventually chatted to Leona she was very sweet and pleasant – but had the charisma of a goldfish. Having seen her in concert I can now report that this is rather unfair to goldfish. It really was the very worst sort of concert – the audience were the type of people that buy one CD a year and I wore a baseball hat low over my face to conceal my shame. Sadly, all this did was to make me look like a paedophile accompanying two young girls to a dodgy concert.

The set looked like somebody had nicked some cast-offs from The Never-Ending Story. At one stage Leona lay on a fake tree murdering a Take That song (tricky enough) while dancers dressed as stags ran aimlessly around beneath her. We got to know these dancers very well because, in a 90-minute show Leona disappeared for three whole songs leaving them, dressed as tampons, to dance along to some extended "axe work" from a session musician and then do a Pan's People routine to some pop crap that the backing singers had decided to sing since nothing else was happening. When Leona was on stage it was clear she had been taught how to "work" a crowd. She would walk purposefully to one side of the stage, then another and shout "rawk" clichés like "I can't hear you" and "everybody on their feet". She does have an extraordinary voice but even my daughter, so excited to see Leona in the flesh at the beginning, was starting to fidget by the fifth song....

We eventually trudged out of the arena and I was surprised to see a huge group of grungy looking types all smoking and looking rebellious. I was astonished to think that they might be Leona fans until I realised they'd been at the Heavy Metal Awards ceremony in the smaller venue next door. Now that would have been a great first concert....