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First Night: Leona Lewis

It was an entrance that none of us could have predicted; a small yet noticeably effective surprise that would immediately provoke a reaction like no other.

Those gleaming white pearls; the simple shirt and jeans; that instantly recognisable 'hairstyle' -- indeed, watching Simon Cowell take to his seat near the front of the O2 stage left many of us nearby, like, completely star-struck.

And I mean, totally.

But wait -- didn't we show up to appreciate the actual talent of The X Factor's most successful musical discovery to date?

Is it not a little strange -- and perhaps a tad rude -- that, rather than focus on the show that they originally paid to see, thousands of fans are instead glued to the sight of one of popular music's most dominant figures sipping from a plastic cup of beer?

Well, yeah, but to be fair, Leona Lewis is hardly the engaging or powerful performer that Simon and his partners in crime might have led you to believe.



Pantomime

She's an incredible vocalist. Likewise, there's no denying the quality of R&B belters like Bleeding Love and the Akon-penned Forgive Me.

But in a live setting?

C'mon, Leona, but what's the story with all this fairytale business, eh?

Ok, we get it: The Labyrinth is your favourite film. For crying out loud, you even named your debut tour after it.

But is a pantomime remake -- complete with its very own cheap forest setting -- really necessary?

Oh it is, is it?

Well then how the hell are we supposed to take anything you or your band are doing seriously when there are half-naked men running around carrying flags and wearing unicorn masks on their heads?

Pretentious doesn't cut it, and while you'd have to admire the 25-year-old Londoner for stepping out of her comfort zone a little, there's no escaping the comical farce of a show that could very easily have taken its cue (and costumes) from the nearest St Patrick's Day Parade, never mind a Jim Henson film.

There's just too much happening in front of us, and none of it seems to fit.

That this could be down to the fact that all those green lasers, big white swans, and second-rate pop tunes, combine to make for nothing more than a piece of absolute drivel, is questionable.

But what's worse, for all of its pompousness, this is a show that presents to its audience very few signs that we're in the company of a genuine superstar.

The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face? It's sweet.

No doubt, it's one of the rarer moments, alongside Snow Patrol's Run, where we get to really hear what this girl is capable of.



Staring

But four years and two albums later, it's clear that Leona is still very much stuck in X Factor mode; a carefully scripted, all too planned, personality-free zone which, let's face it, hardly places her in the same league as Beyonce -- a performer she so obviously wishes to emulate.

Like I said, she's a great singer, but when it comes to entertaining a crowd, you'd be better off staring at Simon. Or at least the back of his head.

- CHRIS WASSER


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