Power of Love Tour 16 Feb 2015
Eventim Apollo Hammersmith
The X Factor has got a bad rep in the past for exploiting contestants in the name of reality TV and choosing style over substance, but sometimes talent really does out.
2013 winner Sam Bailey has proved that vocal ability and having that certain something are what it takes to make it. Sam is a born entertainer. Her down to earth bubbly personality make her instantly likeable and when she
sings, boy what a voice – remember this is the woman who brought the judges to their feet during her first audition - the power, emotion and energy in her performances were what carried her through the contest and has made her one of the best winners on the show.
Seeing her perform live on the final night of her tour is no different, of course she has grown as a performer and vocalist, but she rushes on-stage to perform Ain’t No Mountain High Enough with tonnes of energy and eagerness to entertain. Nobody could accuse her of giving less than
100%. She's also self effacing about her tom boy image and her dislike of glamming up on-stage and having to 'concentrate' when walking in heels. (you’re not the only one Sam!) To be honest, I'd be surprised if anybody could care less if she teetered about like Dustin Hoffman in Tootsie
or if she was floating about like Margot Fonteyn – it's her voice they have come to hear.
The set list is made up of popular hits and her Pièce de résistance, the power ballad. She performs The Power of Love early in the set showing off her terrific powerhouse voice. Sam's been singing for over 20 years but a natural alto belt like hers is rare these days. She also maintains the subtlety of emotion that can often be lost when performing ballads of this nature. She keeps the energy going with Enough Is Enough, From this Moment, How Will I Know? Sisters Are Doing It For Themselves was a highlight of her show. A hats off to her sublime backing singers Annabel Williams and Genevieve Sylva – two hugely experienced singers with whom Sam holds her own.
Go West's We Close Our Eyes was a left field song choice for the set but Sam made it her own as she did with Stevie Wonder's Signed Sealed Delivered and Emeli Sandé's Clown. For an encore she also tackled And I Am Telling You as a solo (without Nicole Scherzinger) and in my opinion a much better version. Of course the night closed with Skyscraper, her number one hit.
Now she has left Syco's management hopefully Sam can have more creative control over her material and career and follow in the footsteps of Matt Cardle. It would be great to hear her tackle some soft rock tunes like Heart's Alone or Guns N Roses Sweet child Of Mine, God knows she has the voice for it.
The first support act for Sam was her cousin Jamie, (another talented singer and performer– it must run in the family!) followed by sister duo Daughters of Davis. A support act for a show always have a difficult task; They have to warm up the audience in preparation for the main show; They are usually unknown so have a short time in which to engage with the audience, showcase their material and hopefully gain some new followers. On both counts DoD definitely rose to the challenge and succeeded. With their vibrant retro country image and folk soul
music they owned the stage and were fantastic to see live, the only disappointment with their set is that it was too short! (The curse of the support act!)
Soul Sisters Adrienne and Fern work damn hard and the audience at Hammersmith appears responsive to their music. They are refreshingly different, with only a guitar, occasional ukulele and a cajon to create their musical world, but it's their blood harmonies that really embellish the music. Their songs are pretty good too with plenty of depth and inspiration to be drawn from their music. Footsteps, Down By The River, British Soul are all great tracks and lyrically advanced, but it's their cover of Michael Jackson's Billie Jean that really wins the crowd over. The girls have already had a fair amount of exposure on BBC Radio 2 and are gathering a sizeable fan base. It's only a matter of time before they are headlining shows of their own.