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Leona Lewis LG Arena, Birmingham Vocals: 5/5 Performance: 3/5 Leona Lewis finally embarked on her first ever tour this year, four years after bursting onto the music scene after winning the X Factor in 2006. The “Labyrinth” Tour is inspired by the 1986 fantasy film and cult classic by Jim Henson. And the show itself has a very fairytale feel to it, as half naked “nymph like” dancers whirl around the stage, and the large video screens at the back of the stage show clips of the lady herself on a white horse, before she actually appears in person rising up and emerging through a castle door, as she launches into “Brave”. A song which could easily have been written for the original film itself. The two hour set showcases Leona’s incredible talent, as we are treated to hits from both her debut album “Spirit” and her latest release “Echo”, as well as a number of covers including the Barry Manilow classic “Could it be Magic”, which show her true versatility. This girl could quite easily sing the phone book and it would be a hit record! It is easy to see America’s influence on her music and

styling, as Leona flexes her dance muscles to prove she is more than just a good ballad singer. For all the intricate staging and dancing, it is when she stays completely still, with no backing or band and treats us to “The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face” that her star truly shines. Stripped back, and both pure and powerful, it is a goose bump’s down the back of your neck moment for which she receives a standing ovation from the Birmingham crowd. It is easy to see that it is these kinds of moments the crowd has been waiting for, and it is a real shame that the show didn’t include more of these show stopping moments. Even the Avatar theme “I See You” was shortened and merged into “Can’t Breathe” before we got to the big money note ending of the song. There is no doubt of Leona Lewis’ extraordinary talent, it just could have been showcased in more a simple way. According to sources money was no object with the production of tour, but sometimes simplicity is better. Just standing in front of the microphone and delivering a show-stopping performance is what she does best. Saying that I would definitely not have missed the chance to see this diva live, Leona Lewis is definitely here for the long haul, and is a home grown talent that we can be proud of! Kim Harrell

Natalie Merchant Symphony Hall, Birmingham 3.5/5 Natalie Merchant has never been one to conform and this cold Spring night is not going to change anything. Arriving on stage as the crowd arrive armed with a slide show, it is clear that tonight is not going to be a straightforward concert. Bemused faces fill the hall as Merchant quickly details the songs from current children’s poetry inspired album “Leave Your Sleep“ that she will not be performing. For a few there are snippets, others insights into the poet’s life or reasons why she chose to turn the aformentioned poem into song. As Merchant reaches the end of her fifteen minute long introduction there are clear sighs of relief.

songs of varied genre. Yet the information overload with each new song is greeted with a mixed reaction. When Merchant lectures the audience turns off, but an occasional excitement in Merchant for a certain poem or poet sparks thrills within the audience.

Having entered into motherhood at the turn of the last decade has clearly had a big impact on Merchant’s life. Having shied away from performance in favour of time with her children, Merchant has whiled away the days piecing an album of material that relates to life in her current stage. The marerial is nothing if not diverse and Merchant has matesfully crafted her raw material into

Whilst the format of the evening’s entertainment was somewhat unexpected, the atmosphere remained relaxed and Merchant ensured that her fans got more than their money’s worth. With no support act and a set lasting well over two hours, the audience left feeling both educated and entertained. Jeremy Williams

However, it is when Merchant sings that the magic truly happens. Her rich vocal is on fine form despite apologies for her cold-ridden presence. As the music starts Merchant’s whole presence shifts, from the reserved lecturer to the liberated chanteuse. With two encores, Merchant ensures that those who had come to celebrate her wealthy back catalogue do not leave dissapointed. Completely unplanned, Merchant takes direct requests from the audience then talks her musicians through the chords before embarking on the requests.

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The Kaje - Issue 3 (July 2010)  

The Kaje is all about the arts - from the upcoming and underground through to the commercial mainstream. Issue 3 takes a look at: Ballet Boy...

The Kaje - Issue 3 (July 2010)  

The Kaje is all about the arts - from the upcoming and underground through to the commercial mainstream. Issue 3 takes a look at: Ballet Boy...

Profile for the_kaje