LIVE REVIEW: Il Divo, L.G. Arena (Birmingham), 14.04.2012

Classical man-band Il Divo have exceeded all expectations. Formed by Simon Cowell almost nine years ago to cash in on the popularity of the pop-opera wave, led by Andrea Bocelli, the multi-national quartet are clearly counting their blessings. As they take to the stage accompanied by a 35 piece Orchestra to perform for the sold out Birmingham audience, they launch into a standing ovation worthy rendition of “Come What May (Te Amara)”, which is met by rapturous applause by their hungry audience.
While they initially veer away from chit chat, with somewhat awkward explanations interjected between songs, they build steadily to the opening act highlight-a chillblain inducing rendition of “Don’t Cry For Me Argentina”.
With the audience eating out of the palm of their hands, they draw act one to a close with their first standing ovation of the night.
As they return to the stage for the second act, their general demeanour is far more relaxed and it is clear that they are determined to enjoy the second half as much as their audience. The relaxed presence of the performers prompts raucous screams for a wanting audience, who are thrilled by the new banterful approach.
With the second half acting as a celebration of their finest release to date, 2011’s “Wicked Game”, the evening takes on a very personal feel-with proud new Daddy (for the third time) Sébastien Izambard enchanting the audience with nursery rhymes-and most importantly a birthday cake to celebrate David Miller’s 38th birthday.
With the audience interaction crescendo-ing, the boys evoked the full spectrum of emotions from their attentive audience as they journeyed through “Crying”, “Mama” and “Hallelujah” before concluding proceedings with a clear fan favourite “Somewhere”.
With the audience stomping for an encore, their wish is granted as the quartet  return with a rousing rendition of the Bocelli classic “Time To Say Goodbye (Con Te Partirò)” that induces the first sing along of the evening as the loyal fanbase bid farewell to the musical maestros.

Rating: 4/5
Reviewer: Anna Brown

LIVE REVIEW: Britney Spears, LG Arena (Birmingham), 30/10/2011

Bleach blonde Barbie doll Britney meets Christina duo Desiree and Paris have the difficult task of warming up an almost empty LG Arena for tonight’s big act. It is not their fault, the ticket states an 8pm start and only those, who like me, stressed about potential crowd problems, arrive early enough to see the extremely enthusiastic duo. There is nothing wrong with the poptastic partners, whose frenetic approach appears wholehearted to its manufactured core. Whether the pair will go on to set the musical world alight is yet to be seen, but there is no denying their vocal prowess or their go get it attitude.

While Desiree and Paris made the most of a difficult situation, Disney hunk Joe Jonas struggles despite the screams that greet his very presence. Clearly wanting to emulate Justin Timberlake, Jonas lacks the aforementioned’s panache even if he has the vocal dexterity to carry him through. Jonas is sadly forgettable and as the screams wane, he resorts to flexing his muscles to win over the fluttering teenage hearts.

After a half an hour break, Britney bursts onto the stage to the beat of recent single “Hold It Against Me”. The pounding pulse sets the tone for the first half of the ‘Femme Fatale’-heavy set and even Britney herself seems to be struggling to have a good time. With barely a word uttered, Britney takes herself through the motions, with the whole event seeming mechanical and methodical. While “Gimme More” gets the crowds suddenly screaming for more, it is the “Hit Me Baby (One More Time)/S&M” remix that gets the crowd roaring and Britney to relax.

Once in her comfort zone, Britney excels. Gone are the stiff movements and in their place, a bold, confident performer appears centre stage. The crowd finally find their feet as Britney closes her initial set with the addictive “Womaniser”, and they rise once again as Britney returns for an encore of “Toxic” and “Till The World Ends”.

With the first half wasted and unwanted by both performer and audience, it is a shame Britney did not focus more on the hits the hardy fans craved. That being said, the beaming audience chanting “Womaniser” as they walked out of the Arena, were far from disappointed. And as for this hardened fan – well, I concede – I am, and no doubt always will be – Team Britney.

Reviewer: Jeremy Williams
Rating: 3/5 

LIVE REVIEW: Gabriella Cilmi, LG Arena, Birmingham, 08.06.2010

File:Gabriella Cilmi at the Godiva Festival.jpgThe Melbourne born singer is currently the support act on the UK leg of Leona Lewis’ Labyrinth Tour.

At the relatively young age of 18 this talented young lady has already clocked up two albums and won numerous awards and accolades in her native Australia, as well as receiving her first ever BRIT nomination in 2009 for Best  International Female.

Bursting onto stage in little more than a shiny sequined silver and purple playsuit she launched into songs from her new album “Ten”. It can often be quite intimidating for a support act, knowing that they are just the brief interlude until the person that the crowd are really there to see takes to the stage, but Ms Cilmi seemingly took it all in her stride. With only a small four piece band for accompaniment, she commanded the stage during her half hour set.

Her latest album “Ten” is in stark contrast to her debut “Lessons to Be Learned”, and is filled with mainly uptempo pop songs including the single “Man on a Mission” and “Hearts Don’t Lie”, both tunes which had your toes tapping and this reviewer wishing that there was a dance floor near by! The tempo was only brought down with the performance of her hit single “Sweet About Me”.

In the short space of time she was on stage  I’m certain Gabriella managed to win over some new fans, and is definitely a support act worthy of her own headline show. In a smaller venue than the Birmingham LG Arena perhaps……?

Rating: 4/5
Reviewer: Kim Harrell

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