Leona Lewis @ The O2, London (16 June 2010)

Last night I saw Matthew Morrison from Glee sing live.

I know.

When you go to a Leona Lewis concert in the UK, you do not expect Matthew Morrison from Glee to show up on stage.

What happened was that midway through, Leona and her band were kind of doing a “campfire”/jamming/acoustic set and then the band all left the main stage and went back to their normal places and Leona goes “So, my favourite show recently has been Glee ….” The crowd cheers. “And tonight as a one-off, we have a very special guest …… please help me welcome onto the stage … Mr Schue/Matthew Morrison…..”

Then he walks on stage and he and Leona hug and he’s all “you look very beautiful tonight, I have to say that London girls in general look beautiful” and the crowd goes mental. He’s with his ukulele so it’s no great surprise when Leona says that they’re going to sing a song which is very special to both of them (Leona sang ‘Somewhere Over The Rainbow’ at her very first The X Factor audition) and then they sing. Together. Gah. It was like it wasn’t really happening. So beautiful! Although I wasn’t overly keen when he sang it on the show, I AM SO GOING TO HAVE TO RETHINK THAT NOW.

Seriously, though, WOW.  Leona just blew me away with the whole show. I can’t even. I mean I’m probably biased as the first time I ever watched The X Factor was in her year and I rooted for her the whole way through and then the year after she won, when she went back to perform ‘Bleeding Love’ for the first time, I got so so so obsessed with that song (before it got overplayed all across the world) and, you know, she’s such a lovely person: she writes a lot of her songs, doesn’t smoke or drink and she adores animals (she supports the WSPA and there’s a page in her programme about their work) and she never takes her success for granted. She just seems completely genuine and grateful for everything.

And her voice. Seriously, oh my god. You know most of her songs are these powerful ballads which have these crazily high notes in them? She hit them all every time and held them for a surreal amount of time. I don’t even know how she did it, especially when she was being spun and swung across the stage (more on this later). And she put her heart and soul into every song, giving it her all but then in between songs she just had this huge smile on her face, like she was enjoying every single minute. It was just all so accomplished, like this was her third or fourth tour rather than her first and it was all note-perfect.

The support act was Gabriella Cimri. Anyone heard of her? She’s Australian and kind of sings “angry ranting pop music” as opposed to “smooth ballady pop music” that I like so it wasn’t really my thing. I felt bad for her though because I feel so awkward watching support acts as they know obviously no one’s come out to see them / no one knows their music and she did her best to get the crowd going but it wasn’t really working.

But, yeah, Leona. The tour was based on David Bowie’s ‘The Labyrinth’ film. Now if I’d ever seen this film, I guess a lot of what the dancers were wearing/their moves would have made a lot more sense but at one point they looked like orcs from Lord Of The Rings and the next moment it looked like they were making love to those giant exercise balls. Luckily though, they were okay during the actual songs and were just weird when they were filling the time when Leona was offstage etc.

I liked what she did with her songs. Obviously a lot of her songs are ballad-y but she hyped up a few like ‘Take A Bow’ and ‘Better In Time’ and it really worked. ‘Forgive Me’ is my absolute Leona Lewis guilty pleasure song and I loved her performance of that. ‘Whatever It Takes’ is my favourite album track and she said it was one of her favourites because when she wrote it, it reflected what she was going through. I loved all the songs on her setlist (even ‘Outta My Head’ which took me a long time to warm up to when I heard it on the album). There was obviously a greater proportion of songs from Spirit rather than Echo which meant she didn’t sing my three favourite songs from Echo (‘Naked’, ‘Alive’, ‘Broken’) but I didn’t expect her to. She did some great covers as well (I even managed to like Justin Timberlake’s ‘Cry Me A River’ although I can’t stand him. That was when she got her band all out and they sat around together and they broke it down and “jammed” it).

Oh God her performance of ‘I Got You’ …… it’s really hard to describe but basically there was this rope swing hanging from the ceiling which was basically just two separate ropes close together with loops at the bottom and she sat on it and a dancer started swinging her around gently, which was fine, but then she lay down and the dancer then started spinning her round and round and round and she was swinging really hard, a long way off the ground. She wasn’t wearing a wire and she had this big puffy dress on and I ACTUALLY feared for her life, especially because below her was this huge gaping hole where the trapdoor was. All this whilst singing note-perfectly. When she got down, I could finally start breathing again but THEN this half-naked male dancer got on this swing and lay down flat, and she got on and lay down on top of him (still singing). It would have been marginally X-Rated except she was wearing this pretty dress and it’s Leona so it was elegantly done ….. then the whole thing started swinging and spinning again and all I could think of was what if the dancer fell through the gap between the two ropes ……. I honestly don’t know how they get away with doing that without a wire.

Obviously she ended with ‘Run’. I have loved this song ever since Snow Patrol released it and Snow Patrol is one of my favourite bands, but Leona’s cover of it is probably the only cover version of a song that I prefer marginally to original. She got everyone to get their mobile phones out and sway and it was so beautiful.

Then people started leaving and all I could think of was why did they think it was over when clearly she wasn’t not going to do ‘Bleeding Love’. I mean seriously. And, yes, of course she did it as her encore and it was amazing.

I have to say, I was quite surprised at the demographic. It was mainly young couples, middle-aged people, or groups of girls in their twenties but then we saw this old man (who was really quite old) wearing a black T-shirt with bright pink letters on saying “Official Leona Lewis Forum Member” and it just made me smile so hard. During the concert, we saw him right at the front, standing and pressing against the barrier. I mean the whole arena was full, right up to the top, and she’s doing a few nights at the O2 so I’m so happy she’s getting the success she deserves. Oh Leona, I love you a lot.

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