Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 22 April 2015

LeAnn Rimes at Waterfront Belfast: Substance rather than style from a seasoned performer

LeAnn Rimes
LeAnn Rimes
LeAnn Rimes
LeAnn Rimes

As you might expect for an artist who's been performing since the age of 13, has released 14 albums and has sold 37 million records, LeAnn Rimes was professionalism incarnate at the Waterfront last night.

Despite seemingly suffering from a cold, the Texan country favourite charmed the pants off a capacity crowd as she kicked off her latest European tour.

Returning to Belfast for the first time in a decade, the beaming star declared how happy she was to be back in the city.

"It's been way too long," Rimes cooed in her mannered southern tones, in between discrete coughs and splutters.

"I love my Irish fans."

Opening with the upbeat Swingin' and Nothin' Better to Do, it wasn't long before the 31-year-old unleashed her powerful pipes on a string of ballads.

I Need You featured a vocal performance so intense she needed to sit on a stool to deliver it, while Probably Wouldn't Be This Way was a darker and moodier effort.

Elsewhere, the singalong strains of Life Goes On mined the poppier vein that has seen Rimes attract some flak from the more purist elements of her following.

As for the visual aspect of the evening, despite sporting very tight trousers and very high heels, the crooner's stage show is unlikely to give Lady Gaga any sleepless nights.

But that's not really what she's about. Armed with a clutch of self-penned material and that magnificent voice, Rimes offers substance over style.

The flashiest it got was a bit of chit-chat between numbers and a few searing lead guitar solos.

Indeed, her four-piece backing band were uniformly excellent, from the subtle lap steel player to the rock-solid rhythm section.

Still, there was some attitude amongst the niceties, particularly when it came to material from Rimes's current release, Spitfire.

A new song imploring an unknown party to "kiss my ass" and another written when the singer was "pi**ed off" revealed a grittier side to the former child star.

Yet it was the tracks Rimes recorded for the blockbuster chick-flick Coyote Ugly – including the UK number-one Can't Fight the Moonlight – that many fans had come to hear, and the endlessly obliging American didn't let them down.

Her other big UK hit, How Do I Live, was also included in what proved to be a very entertaining two-hour set.

ANDREW JOHNSTON

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