Cher Lloyd - Indigo, London
Although only coming fourth in 2010's X Factor competition Malvern's Cher Lloyd has managed to remain in the public eye throughout the months that have followed her exit from the show and is still probably the most talked about contestant from her year, next to the completely massive One Direction. A large part of Cher's recent media coverage was due to the release of her debut album Sticks + Stones in 2011 and the singer has finally taken to the road to perform the album's contents to her adoring fans.
The 'Swagger Jagger' spouting songstress appeared at a trio of short showcases at Austin's prestigious SXSW event last month and I was fortunate enough to attend all three sets as part of my SX coverage for the Fix. I was impressed by what I heard and had the singer's songs stuck in my bloody head while waiting for my plane home, so Cher's Austin adventure certainly made her mark on me!
I was curious to see what a full length Cher show would contain having only sampled around six songs each night in Texas, so made sure I had a photo pass for one of the two headline gigs the singer was playing in the capital, my venue of choice - Indigo at the O2.
Cher opened her set with 'Dub On The Track' backed by a band and a pair of female dancers, with the audience going nuts by the time song number two and album opener 'Grow Up' appeared. The singer told the audience that she was quite nervous about the show as it meant a lot to her and she hoped that everybody would leave the gig feeling like it was the best they'd been to. Chances are it was probably the first show a lot of the assembled Lloyd fans had attended as it was an all ages gig, with a large part of the crowd very young indeed!
They seemed to be having the time of their life anyway and there were countless banners on display, with humourous messages or declarations of love for the singer. Cher did her best to cover all of the stage, playing to each section of the ecstatic crowd but there was a large part of the show featuring around six songs where she didn't address her audience once. I felt this was a bit off and it made her moments when she did talk later all feel a little bit scripted. It was the sort of thing you would get in an high production arena show but this was a lot more intimate affair so things should have been a bit more flexible with regards to communication with the crowd.
I may have had an issue with audience interaction but I was extremely happy with the first half of the set as a whole and it was pleasure to hear my first live renditions of 'Over The Moon' and 'Superhero' alongside two of my Cher faves - single 'With Ur Love' and 'Beautiful People'.
By the time the show reached its halfway point it was beginning to show signs of being slightly fleshed out though, firstly with the singer responding to questions asked on Twitter earlier that day, including favourite super power ("invisibility") and highlight of career ("Getting a record deal").
A trio of covers followed featuring Jason Derulo's 'Breathing', Robyn's 'Dancing On My Own' and Avril Lavigne's 'Complicated'. I thought the first two were very good, especially 'Breathing" but I wasn't that keen on 'Complicated', probably because I hate the original though!
One Cher cover I completly adore is her take on the Neneh Cherry classic 'Buffalo Stance'. The original always has a place in my 'Top Ten Singles Of The 80's' so I was very wary when I heard that Cher had recorded a version entitled 'Playa Boi' for her album, breathing a sigh of relief when I realised she hadn't ruined the track, actually delivering a decent updated take on the song. The singer's live rendition followed a pounding 'Swagger Jagger' and was the obvious highlight of the night for me.
Cher wound her Indigo show up with another cover in the shape of a laid back version of Usher's 'OMG', followed by 'Talkin That' and tremendous set closer - single 'Want U Back'.
Cher currently delivers a great live performance but I think her shows would work better stripped back slightly, losing the dancers and delivering a more flexible and fluid set, leaving the larger production side of things until she hits arenas. She obviously also currently has the problem of not enough original material but she's already got half a dozen excellent songs under her belt so by the time album number two comes round she'll be gigging featuring the best of both collections, which is something to definitely look forward to.