thu 25/07/2024

Cher Lloyd, IndigO2 | reviews, news & interviews

Cher Lloyd, IndigO2

Cher Lloyd, IndigO2

The X Factor graduate is still playing catch-up to her own ambitions

Cher Lloyd: not in complete control

Cher Lloyd first appeared aged 16 on The X Factor with a storming cover of an unofficial bootleg version of “Turn My Swag On” - a song that peaked at just number 48 on the UK singles charts. Knowing so much about music at such a young age set her apart from the entire competition, and it’s no surprise that her debut album Sticks + Stones is the most feverish and bold set that anyone from the show has yet produced. 

Some 18 months after that first appearance, the singer headlined her first London show at a 2,500-capacity venue. Keeping it relatively intimate served a little too much as self-congratulation for SyCo, desperate to be seen as pushing one of its protégées down a more unusual path to superstardom - but it’s thanks to Lloyd’s own spirit as well as the Cowell behemoth that her talent has mostly been preserved.

"Mostly" is the key word. On her album, Cher Lloyd is dead set against being moulded, yet still willing and ready to hurdle over genres. Somewhere along the way, however, this tour has become too fixated on the kitchen sink. The show’s default to the very worst X Factor clichés brought its very best bits crashing down.

It was abundantly clear throughout when Lloyd was having fun and when she wasn't

A joyless acoustic cover of Usher’s dancefloor hit “OMG” played for authenticity points with an invisible demographic, while a mid-set Twitter Q&A felt similarly misguided. The tinny sound throughout didn’t go far towards hiding Lloyd’s nerves: it was abundantly clear throughout when she was having fun and when she wasn't, in spite of her overstatements to the contrary; there’s only so far an empty platitude can carry a pop star if the right songs aren’t there, but thankfully there were enough brilliant moments present to punctuate the agony.

The buoyancy in Lloyd’s vocal on opener “Dub on the Tracks” carried her contagious determination through to the midway point, and there were plenty of other gems during the hour-long set. “Over the Moon”, “Playa Boi”, “Want U Back” and “Superhero” offered delicious layers of irresistible, seamless hooks, while “End Up Here” teased at the seductive R&B slinkstress Lloyd could yet blossom into. Bonus song “Talkin’ That” finally recaptured the singer’s signature snarl, almost erasing the memory of the ropey covers populating the show’s second half. 

Lloyd has a way to go yet, unflinching as she may appear. Someone, somewhere, is overplaying her hyperactivity; if we hadn’t had exposure to her on The X Factor, we wouldn’t be able to read her like we do now. The 18-year-old from Malvern knows more about her demographic than she’s been credited with, and an outside audit would prescribe complete control over the set list. Otherwise we’ll just have to wait longer to watch her play catch-up with her own ambitions.

The show’s default to the very worst X Factor clichés brought its very best bits crashing down


Editor Rating: 
Average: 3 (1 vote)

Share this article

Add comment

Subscribe to

Thank you for continuing to read our work on For unlimited access to every article in its entirety, including our archive of more than 15,000 pieces, we're asking for £5 per month or £40 per year. We feel it's a very good deal, and hope you do too.

To take a subscription now simply click here.

And if you're looking for that extra gift for a friend or family member, why not treat them to a gift subscription?


Get a weekly digest of our critical highlights in your inbox each Thursday!

Simply enter your email address in the box below

View previous newsletters