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Rebecca Ferguson Performs At Shepherds Bush In London

Live Review: Rebecca Ferguson @ Shepherds Bush Empire, 16/03/14

I have a soft spot for Rebecca Ferguson. I supported her when she was on The X Factor, I devoured her debut album, Heaven and I’m still obsessed with her follow up, Freedom. She’s a unique one as her appeal crosses generations, the normal X Factor crash, bang and wallop distinctly missing from her understated and soulful tracks. It was a pleasure, therefore, to head down to Shepherds Bush Empire to watch R-Fergz perform.

Opening the set with a humbling performance of ‘Fake Smile’, Ferguson was composed, settling for a quiet entrance. Dressed in a classic gown, she looked the part as she quickly moved into absolute smash of a song, ‘I Hope’. The thumbing drums and backing singers brought the song to life.

Taking a moment to explain the next song, Ferguson lightly divulged the difficulty she had between albums. It’s hard to forget that at the beginning of last year, she was ready to give up the industry, having allowed the wrong people into her life. As she launches into ‘My Freedom’, there is a glimmer of determination that punctuates the performance. However, as she reaches emotional ballad, ‘Freedom’, there is an element of the performance that is lacking. Having interviewed Ferguson about the song last year, I know that she can’t really listen to the song due to it’s meaning to her. This is completely apparent during the performance. Even the desperate calling towards the song felt difficult for her.

In fact, there was something about the whole show that felt like R-Fergz was holding back. Following her backing vocalists cues on standout tracks, ‘We’ll Be Fine’ and ‘All That I’ve Got’, she seemed unsure of herself. Similarly, the inclusion of three covers gave the impression that her own material wasn’t enough, which definitely isn’t that case.

It wasn’t until ‘Too Good To Lose’ that it felt the Fergz was getting into the swing of things. The floor-filler got her enthused as she took off her overly high-heels and actually started to look like she was enjoying herself. The warming ‘Nothing’s Real But Love‘, described as “classic Fergo”, was appreciated by the somewhat lackluster crowd. Closing the show with a sassy and fabulous rendition of ‘My Best’, Fergo finally got into it.

Now in defense of Rebecca, performing to that crowd must have been difficult. There seemed to be no dancing in the pit, neither were the upper levels really going for it. The mixed crowd obviously didn’t know what to do with themselves, which was unfortunate. Likewise the stage set looked cheap, a faux attempt at class with a chandelier hanging there like a lonely balloon. The whole thing looked sad. It’s a shame because Ferguson is a real talent, one who has the potential for longevity.

I love Rebecca and probably always will. She is a class act who deserves a lot more than a three pissy set pieces. I don’t know whether it was this, as well as some obvious nerves, that left the show lacking, but whatever the reasons Rebecca should know that she really is a star.

The set-list for the show was as follows:
Fake Smile
I Hope
My Freedom
We’ll Be Fine
Beautiful Design
Another Love – Tom Odell
All That I’ve Got
Hanging On
Roar – Katy Perry
Shoulder To Shoulder
Mr Bright Eyes
Too Good To Lose
Raspberry Beret – Prince
Run Free
Nothing’s Real But Love
My Best

Rebecca Ferguson’s album, Freedom, is available now.

- Alim Kheraj

Image: Getty Images and Joseph Okpako

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