sun 03/07/2022

Rebecca Ferguson, Symphony Hall, Birmingham | reviews, news & interviews

Rebecca Ferguson, Symphony Hall, Birmingham

Rebecca Ferguson, Symphony Hall, Birmingham

Simon Cowell’s protégée puts on a show of real soul music

Rebecca Ferguson: soul woman

 As anyone who has a television will know, Rebecca Ferguson is a graduate of The X Factor – having come runner-up in the 2010 competition.

In fact, with her heavily-promoted back story of overcoming heart-ache and disappointment, it looks as if she is presently being set up as the successor to Simon Cowell’s previous Queen Bee, Leona Lewis, whose career seems to have hit the buffers of late.

So, armed with songs of survival and redemption that she has largely co-written for her two albums, 2011’s Heaven and last year’s Freedom, she took to the stage in Birmingham to the sound of Billie Holiday’s “Lady Sings the Blues”, dressed in a floor-length dress with a plunging neckline that wouldn’t have looked out of place on Shirley Bassey in her heyday. This was all beginning to imply that this woman knows her stuff and has no intentions of being just another one of Syco’s pop muppets.

Ferguson is no run-of-the-mill, middle-of-the-road pop singer

Kicking off with “Fake Smile” and “I Hope”, from Freedom, the show had the air of a Stax revue from the Sixties, with the band dressed in black and respectfully sticking to the back of the stage. That’s not to say that their playing was pedestrian background noise though - the psychedelic soul tinges of “My Freedom” and the reggae touches on “Beautiful Design” suggested that they knew their stuff and were keen to show it off when given the chance.

On the 2012 Heaven tour, Ferguson covered an eclectic mix of other people’s songs to bulk out her set. From the Rolling Stones’ “Gimme Shelter” to Sam Cooke’s “A Change Is Gonna Come”, she applied the X Factor method of twisting classics into something a bit more easy on the mainstream, 21st Century ear. Unfortunately, in 2014 she has decided to use more contemporary fare, and presented us with versions of Tom Odell’s dreary “Another Love” and Katy Perry’s “Roar”. However, she did redeem herself by pulling a cracking version of Prince’s “Raspberry Beret” out of the bag, which got everybody on their feet.

Simon Cowell’s stable of acts tends to get a hard time from music journalists and fans of “real music” (you know who you are!), and the antics of acts like One Direction don’t do anything to calm these attitudes down. Rebecca Ferguson, however, seems to be in a different league from her contemporaries. Powerful renditions of “Backtrack”, “Mr Bright Eyes” and encore “Nothing’s Real But Love” – all from debut album Heaven – suggest that Rebecca Ferguson is no run-of-the-mill, middle-of-the-road pop singer. She’s something more – a real soul singer in the classic mould. Hopefully, she’ll be around for a long time yet.

The show had the air of a Stax revue from the Sixties


Editor Rating: 
Average: 3 (1 vote)

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Absolutely Amazing show at the Syphony on the 27th - real. pure soul music. Unique sound and right from the soul. The effortless, ever-powerful artist. Keep true to yourself Rebecca - original album captivating - Rebecca's performance songs from the first album drive deep down in your soul and the emotion in her voice - I found the tears roll down my face. The only other artist that has been able to do that to me is Lionel Ritchie. Rebecca should be so much more known now and I am unsure that her manager has marketed her in the best way. Promoting her songs from the original album - her live shows are absolutely amazing quality - that is her style, tone and soul alone - no gimmicks needed - absolutely pure. Rebecca Ferguson has the most amazing voice and is so unassuming.

Rebecca You are amazing, 27/3/14 was a special day in my life and seeing you at the Symphony Hall in Birmingham made it even more special!! Keep it shining Girl, you've got what it takes!!

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