Gig Review: Rebecca Ferguson
Upon arrival to the City Hall, seated on row E and very close to the stage, I prepared myself for a certain someone or something called ‘Chelsea.’ I got this information from the group of 20-somethings seated in front of me chanting the name and holding up a sign expressing their love for ‘Chelsea’. Not soon after, all was revealed and on came singer-songwriter, and support act, Chelsea Alice Scott – to an array of cheers, of course. A Sheffield lass herself, it was evident how much this gig meant to her, which was portrayed in her (at times) very emotive music. With a Lucy Spraggan-esque style about her songs, she sung stories of times and struggles in her life. Her set lasted about 30 minutes and the crowd loved her, a great opening act which changed the previously relaxed vibe around the hall (although the bar might have helped too).
Not soon after, four local lads ran on stage, with the frontman introducing himself as Matt Restaino. In all honesty, they weren’t my cup of tea and I found myself bored throughout the set. However, this wasn’t the same emotion from the audience, as they were on their feet and clapping along with the band. Like Chelsea, the band played live, original songs and gave it 100%. However to me, this was the reason I didn’t particularly enjoy the band, as I felt it was very cheesy and unnecessarily over enthusiastic. Although all in all, like Chelsea, the frontman did a great job of creating an atmosphere ready for Rebecca Ferguson to make her appearance.
Thus came Ferguson at around 9pm, sporting an elegant, black diamond encrusted dress and a new blonde look – she immediately owned the stage. Opening with the song Oceans from her new album ‘Superwoman’, this was a great upbeat opener which got the audience hooked. I was shocked by how confident she was, as on the X Factor she stated very openly how shy and nervous she was when on stage. Gone was the woman who just stared at the floor, and in came a powerful and confident young woman who meant business.
This appeared to be the theme of the album and the tour; ‘Superwoman’ is about feminism and strong, independent women, something which Ferguson frequently discussed when she addressed the audience. She informed the audience that ‘Superwoman’ was a song she wrote about her Grandma who had recently passed. The song itself was well received and quite evidently meant a lot to Ferguson, which she also emotively expressed, was about her journey as a single mother, which has been documented in the media.
Determined to beat the stereotype, it was obvious too how Ferguson inspired women, and one woman from the audience at the front gave Ferguson a bunch of flowers. Her reaction was grateful and authentic, which anchors her humble nature we saw on The X Factor. It is Sheffield, she said, that she thanks her humble nature for, going on to say that she spent a lot of her childhood summers here and had family in the audience from Sheffield. This perhaps the reason she always performs here whenever she tours.
Throughout the evening, Ferguson sang a mixture of songs from the new album and songs from her previous album, ‘Heaven’. One notable song was her top 10 classic Nothing’s Real but Love, which she expressed was about while fame and fortune is all good, it’s only really family and love that you need. The song for me was the best of the entire show, and showed off her raw and unique vocal range amazingly.
My only criticism perhaps would be that at times, there were aspects of her old personality creeping in. For the most part, Ferguson was a confident young woman, however, on occasion it was very noticeable that the nerves and shyness is still in her, which was expressed through her at times physically shaking and tremors in her voice when she spoke – not something one would expect from a professional singer. Despite this, she appeared to completely shed her nerves the moment she sang.
I didn’t know a lot of the songs she performed that well, and some not at all, however, they were so well written and performed one could just enjoy them without feeling the pressure to sing along like you have in some show environments. Ferguson’s style was classier, and she sang to us, as opposed to us singing to her – very fitting of the City Hall.
The show, appropriately, ended with a song which summed up her feminist views and her new album perfectly. And what other than the Whitney Houston classic, I’m Every Woman?!
All in all, I was pleasantly surprised at just how good Ferguson was, and although I wouldn’t necessarily go again, not being the type of music I typically listen to, I would definitely recommend going to see Ferguson live! Especially if you wish to have a relaxed evening with pure, raw and original music.
Words by Charley Hussain