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Having been thoroughly impressed with Beverley Knight and Rhianna’s albums, I was honoured to have the chance to review two of the UK’s finest soul stars together in one show. Unfortunately, my enthusiasm was dampened considerably when I arrived fashionably late (or so I thought) at the venue.
Sitting down at precisely seven-thirty, it was a whole forty-five minutes until the beautiful Rhianna sang her first note. Impatient, inconvenienced (nursing the mother of all hangovers), and ill, she took my breath away as she sang away my woes in a set which comprised her debut album. Her stunning, soulful vocals, and the backing of a live band brought life to a brilliant debut album. Rhianna began with her second single ‘Word Love’ and followed through with ‘Damn’, a jazzy, uptempo number, about newly found singledom. Other highlights, were the pop-masterpiece of ‘Moon is Blue’, which brought the vibe down and ‘Oh Baby’, her debut single. Rhianna was definitely a ray of sunshine in a concrete jungle.
Having had the perfect support act, (who incidentally went down with the rest of the crowd like a lead balloon) the stage was set for Beverley Knight to shine. Unfortunately, she provided me with her worst performance, best described as the musical equivalent of over-acting. The outstanding highlight of an otherwise disappointing set was ‘Beautiful Contradiction’ with the male vocal taken by special guest Lemar from Fame Academy. The set, comprising of mainly mid and uptempo tracks from her three albums, sounded cacophonous, with Beverley Knight’s larger-than-life vocals and overbearing presence. Her attempts at entertainment fell flat upon me, with her dancing to a deformed ‘Funky Chicken’ in a tartan belt and acting unconvincingly like the God-given epitomy of cool. The fifteen songs chosen did not show her vocal versatility as she intended on putting on a spectacle rather than a show. Her interaction with the audience (who were there specially for her and didn’t look like they’d been to many live shows, the kind I call ‘coffee table soul fans’) was minimal, yet they applauded her every move.
I left disappointed, and ashamed for a great performer for the loss of what could have been and what should have been.