In Pictures: Leona Lewis brings lavish show to Belfast's Odyssey Arena
It is hard to believe it has been nearly four years since Islington student Leona Lewis was catapulted to global fame by winning The X Factor.
Time must have gone even more quickly for the Guyanese-Welsh-Italian-Irish-descended singer, who has enjoyed a roller coaster ride of multi-million album sales, Grammy nominations and now a sold-out UK and Irish tour.
Following four dates at the O2 in London and two-night stands in eight other cities, Lewis arrived in Belfast last night for the first of a pair of shows at the Odyssey Arena.
The concert was a lavish affair, with a stage set based on Lewis's favourite movie, Labyrinth, starring David Bowie .
The show creaked into life with an overblown production number featuring 10 dancers and aerial acrobats dressed as demon-style characters and ghostly figures. Stage centre, Lewis was somewhat swamped by the action around her.
Opening with Brave and Don't Let Me Down from current album Echo, followed by Better in Time and Whatever It Takes from 2007's Spirit, Lewis played mostly original material including some self-co-written songs, along with a range of cover versions.
Her renditions of Justin Timberlake's Cry Me a River, folk staple The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face and the Eurythmics' Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This) went down a storm. The breaks were to facilitate a series of elaborate costume changes, reflecting a reported wardrobe price tag — for the whole tour — of £175,000.
It was all very Cirque du Soleil, and quite possibly the most over-the-top spectacle many in the audience would ever have seen.
Yet the ambitious production seemed out of step with the simplistic pop Lewis peddles and, with awkward between-song banter and stiff movements, she is certainly no Beyoncé or Pink, stagecraft wise. The most memorable moments came when she simply sang, accompanied by a basic five-piece band and a couple of backing vocalists.
Lewis's live performance may still need some work, but at just 25 she is doing alright for a one-time talent show wannabe.