Leona Lewis performing her I Am Tour at The Royal Concert Hall Nottingham on Thursday 10th March 2016

Images and Review by Kevin Cooper

After Sunday’s X Factor show where all of last year’s finalists staked their claim for fame and fortune, last night saw Leona Lewis take to the stage at The Royal Concert Hall and show them all exactly what could be.

Whereas Sunday was one big production number after another, full of lights, pyrotechnics and dancers, this show was a pretty stripped back and basic affair by comparison. The four piece band and two backing singers did a great job but everyone’s attention was on Lewis and that voice.

Having last toured three years ago, she is back to promote her latest album, I Am and her I Am Empowered campaign, which encourages people to share stories of obstacles that they have overcome. Taking to the stage with instant crowd pleaser, the title track of her new album, she looked radiant and happy as she danced and whirled around the stage performing her dynamic and dazzling new material.

After throwing off the shackles of an increasingly unhappy partnership with Simon Cowell’s record label Syco, Lewis seems to now have the freedom to showcase songs that mean something to her. Songs like The Essence Of Me and Power have personal meaningful lyrics whilst Ladders and Fire Under My Feet had the crowd up dancing with their thumping bass lines and euphoric choruses.

Her set list was full of variety, with a mix of power pop and gentler ballads, old material with the new, some cover versions and even a touch of classical. There was one of her early successes, Footprints In The Sand, which was followed quickly by her first hit, the X Factor winners single from 2006, A Moment Like This.

The numbers flowed into another and the use of video to cover costume changes ensured that no-one’s attention wavered. New track Thank You was a beautiful ballad, and Cyndi Lauper’s Time After Time was just magical.

The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face came across particularly well as did Sam Smith’s Stay With Me. Unfortunately her Ave Maria did not quite hit the mark for me, but she did get a standing ovation, so what do I know!

Finishing the main set with new track Thunder, this appreciative crowd demanded more. Back on stage to deliver another new track, I Got You, she rounded off the evening on a reflective note with Snow Patrol’s Run, a hit for Lewis in 2007, with members of the audience happily waving their mobile phones and singing along.

Whatever you think about TV talent shows and the long-term career potential of some of the winners, sometimes they do turn out a gem, and Leona Lewis is certainly one of them.