Saturday, 19 June 2010
(Images sourced from flickr.com)
Ok so remember when I said that I thought the show would kick off with a ground-stomping rendition of Oasis’ ‘Stop Crying Your Heart Out’? Well, I was wrong. Ironically it didn’t even make the 21 song long set list. And do you also remember when I said that I’d rather listen to her sing than try and be a crowd pleaser by asking how everyone’s night is when clearly you are only going to get a unanimous response? Well I stand by that but I was wrong in that she did involve the audience and believe it or not, she danced too!!
These are highly beside the point so I’ll just skip to the fabulous details of the concert but I don’t often like saying I’m wrong so you should be honoured as my blog readers that you have witnessed such rare honesty.
So onto my review. Well what can I say other than to use a very Leona word...AMAZING.
Again as with my last Grace Kelly post, I researched some professional reviews of her concert before embarking on mine and similarly I was met with harsh criticisms but this time, I am in no agreement with them whatsoever. My huge love for her and therefore biased opinion being neither here nor there!
The show kicked off with a booming passage from the children’s film ‘The Labyrinth’, which played host to her tour due to its resemblance to Leona’s life at present – “It’s about a young girl finding her way through a mysterious maze and coming out stronger at the end of it, which is how I feel.” Spotlights then revealed stone archways, animalistic dancers and ribbon twirling acrobats, all within the smoke screen mist that the singer herself appeared from. Hidden beneath a hooded cloak, Leona appeared on stage to the beats of ‘Brave’ (not one of her most popular or moving songs but I understand her choice as the lyrics are most apt for the theme of her show and describe her lost feelings of being in the maze). The cloak was soon removed to reveal a very glamorous, sexier side to Lewis in a tight fitting black dress, embellished with crystals and punky chains, and teamed with highly fashionable over-the-knee leather boots. To complete the look a black, satin headband held back her long, curly, (what I think are extensions) locks back and studded diamontes decorated her eyes.
I was taken aback at her confidence and ownership of the stage. Although she left the dancing pretty much to the dancers (who moved so rhythmically to her songs, especially in ‘Take a Bow’), she certainly used the stage to her best and you could definitely notice huge growth in her performance abilities compared to her X Factor days. She did veer slightly more towards to left hand-side of the stage so perhaps she had family on that side (I on the other hand was on the right). But with a glistening, diamond covered mike in one hand, she did join in with the choreography at points, even if it was just a hip sway or head move, it was more than I had expected.
That was her aim of the show, “to surprise people” and she did just that. Aside from the gentle dance moves, light effects and stage set we saw sides to Leona that we weren’t aware existed. Her communication with her fans being one of them. Not that this was anything like on the scale of Robbie or involved the cringey inclusion of fans on stage, but more of, “how’re you feeling tonight London?”, “I wanna see everyone on their feet”, and small introductions to songs such as “This next song was the first song I wrote for my album Spirit”. Tame yet more than anticipated due to the shy but kindly nature of the girl-next-door character.
And her second-to-last outfit was another surprise and didn’t quite mesh with the angel, heavenly like stage persona idea that I described previously. To the more upbeat, dance version of ‘Outta My Head’ out strut Leona in a black zipped brassiere, high-waisted leggings and a repeat of the knee-high boots. Very unlike her but it worked and certainly achieved in shocking the audience.
I can see why one critic described this moment as the most effective of the whole 105 minutes as it was much more up-beat and energetic but for me, what makes Leona so special and breathtaking to watch (or hear should I say) is her voice, the control she has and the power with which she delivers it. So the most effective point for me was her rendition of ‘First Time Ever I Saw Your Face’. The emotion that this song was sung with and the simple setting that accompanied it (a lone, dark stage, no dancers, just a spotlight on her and her movement as she felt each word of the song) allowed every person in that arena to feel the tingling sensation that the beauty of her voice creates. Every single note was perfect and it was at that moment that the 23,000 fans rose to their feet in awe, not because they were dictated to but out of respect and utter astoundment at what they had just witnessed.
The traditional Leona if I can call it that (what you usually see and expect from her) also played a big part in the show. Two gorgeous gowns; one aqua green with an embellished bodice and removable tiered train, the other (my favourite) a nude coloured ballerina styled dress with a fitted bodice and a tulle tiered, feather skirt played home to that angel like image where by her biggest ballads were sung. Avatar’s ‘I See You’ accompanying the appropriately coloured aqua dress and several unexpected covers with the romantic gown. Those included Barry Manilow’s ‘Could It Be Magic’ sung in a tree (I know what you’re thinking - ‘A tree?!’ but it worked superbly), decorated with hanging, twinkling lights and a bare-footed Leona lying quite happily in the branches (a very pretty set), and then a grounded Leona sitting on a stump singing an acoustic version of Justin Timberlake’s ‘Cry Me A River’. Both sounded stunning of course.
Another favourite of mine, in the same nude dress was ‘I Got You’, which now every time I hear, I picture a Miss Lewis twirling and spinning on stage in a roped swing. Of which she seemed very comfortable with. The whole show did seem very polished, well practiced and poised (as you’d imagine it to be because what would the poor girl do if something were to have gone wrong or spontaneously changed), even down to her footsteps moving in time with the song so that within the last ten beats, she’d reached the back of the stage. But one very minor blip was that her gorgeous tulle train got caught up in the swing and to my horror it looked like Mr Dancer ripped the material (eek!) in his flurry of releasing her.
Finally an encore closed the show with, you guessed it, ‘Bleeding Love’. One critic described her dress for this song as resembling the ‘Big Purple One from the Quality Street tin’ but I loved it. Make way Balmainia, it’s not only the shoulders that can be big but the hips too!
Although slightly unsure of ‘The Labyrinth’ theme at first (mainly because I haven’t seen the film - yet) it worked unanimously with Leona and her very fairytale-esque mind-set. She was once quoted saying “I’d go into my own little world where the colour was pink...a surreal world with animals, somewhere free” and you can believe her one-hundred percent when she says that. Many would call that naive but wanting to live in a candy-cotton dream world is understandable. Luckily for her, I think her dream world has materialised but the animals have become doting fans and the colour has become bright lights on centre stage. And I only pray that her dream continues to flourish so we all have the joy of listening to her astonishing voice forever more.
PS. One of my dreams is to one day meet and interview her as having my own published article about Leona would be heaven. I don’t quite know if I’d get to the interview questions though, one due to the overwhelming effect she has on me which would probably leave me quite speechless, and two I’d just want to listen to her sing for the whole allotted time we had. I don’t know how her family and friends get anything done when she’s around because if I were them I’d want to listen to her voice 24/7. So Leona, I very much look forward to meeting you!
Read reviews of Leona's tour -
View Leona's Labyrinth performances with exclusive covers too -
Also check out more pictures from the tour, there are some gorgeous ones but unfortunately I couldn't put them all on here -