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Bring the girls next time, Cheryl

CHERYL Cole reckons we're the best audience she's had so far. Funny, seeing as how she's only played two shows. Still, it's not like it makes any difference. She's in Nottingham tomorrow. Next week, it'll be Liverpool's turn.

And you better believe that the girl who was once considered the UK's television 'sweetheart' will stage the exact same performance. Again and again. Same banter ('you guys ah on fiah toneet!'), same steps (I do hope those dancers don't let her fall), and the same ambiguous expressions (judging from those sultry eyes, she's either feeling angry or, erm, in the mood ... it's difficult to tell from the balcony). Which is fine.


What matters is that Cheryl (29) has improved as a performer. Not much, mind, but enough to somewhat justify the hype that follows the Geordie lass's every move.

We never did see it coming, though. Nadine was the star, we thought -- Nadine will conquer the world. Then, out from behind the judges' table, a solo popstah (Cheryl speak -- keep up) was born. Right songs, right timing, and -- best of all -- the right platform. And now, here she is, fully loaded with 75 minutes worth of 'hits' to prove it.

She's still winging it, of course. There are a few costume changes (only Cheryl could get away with following up a classy purple gown with a tacky pink tracksuit), and plenty of bells and whistles (acrobatic dancers, mirrors, green lasers, etc.). Granted, this ain't like the Katy Perry or Rihanna show. No, for those big spectacles you need presence. Power. Or, at the very least, a personality. But Cheryl is learning.

It might rub folks up the wrong way that she doesn't always sing live. There's a backing track at work here, and plenty of Auto-Tune, not least for the chirpy Under the Sun and Promise This. When left to her own devices, things get a little wobbly, too (The Flood, Parachute). But it's a hectic business, this pop malarkey. Evidently, multi-tasking isn't always easy.


Elsewhere, BFF will.i.am makes an appearance in pre-recorded videoland for 3 Words. An acceptable evening, then, but am I the only one that thinks Cheryl is better suited to a group? Maybe one day, she'll have the full package, but for now, the sound of a well-placed Girls Aloud medley says all we need to know about what's really missing. Reunion please.