Lemar + JLS + The Score + Effie @ Birmingham NIA – 27th March 2009

Lemar featuring JLS

This is my first time at the NIA and I really don’t know what to expect from tonight’s gig. I haven’t been to a sit-down performance in a very long time and it makes a nice change — there’s no standing at all and I anticipate a much different atmosphere from what I’m used to. As I walk to my seat I am stunned by the number of JLS fans here tonight; it seems everywhere I look there’s a young girl in a JLS top. The lingering smell of perfume in the air suggests the audience is primarily female and this is justified by the screams when the lights go down for the first time.

First act of the night Effie looks a little lonely on stage with only a backing track to accompany her. She plays just two songs and despite having a decent voice she doesn’t really have enough time to distinguish herself from the hundreds of other Destiny’s Child wanabees. ‘Into Yellow’ actually sounds like a very strong track but with such a small set she will probably not be remembered by many in the crowd tonight.

Next up are The Score, a five-piece from Los Angeles who immediately work the crowd very well. Their genre is definitely RnB but they have something a bit different; they sound a little like Andre 3000 at times and even manage to work some Britney Spears into their set. I’m also convinced that at times the drummer is using double-bass! Their cover of The Police’s ‘Roxanne’ goes down well with the crowd and lead singer CJ’s solo dance, which includes a bizarre moonwalk on his knees, gets a decent reception. The Score could be one to watch in the future.

JSL support LemarJSL support Lemar

This is where the night starts getting really interesting; boy-band JLS, who shot to fame in the latest X-factor, are greeted by literally deafening screams from the crowd. I find myself wincing as the mass of teenage girls’ euphoria reaches fever pitch. A massive part of the crowd is clearly here for the RnB four-piece and for that reason I feel I should dedicate a sizeable portion of this review to them. JLS start with a cover of Sean Kingston’s ‘Beautiful Girls’ and I already find myself wondering if they’ve actually written many songs of their own yet. Sadly the answer is no and although their versions of Michael Jackson’s ‘The Way You Make Me Feel’ and Rihanna’s ‘Umbrella’ are solid, I find it hard to get excited by a group who are essentially just a covers band. They do play one song of their own, ‘Mary’, which gets a good reception from the crowd whilst being nothing special. JLS are good at what they do, don’t get me wrong; their vocal harmonies are spot on and their performance is well choreographed. The thing that really disappoints me is that they don’t appear to have gone anywhere since they left the X-factor. They might do well to take a leaf out of headliner Lemar’s book.

Lemar featuring JLS

Despite not winning Fame Academy, Lemar has arguably made himself the most successful career of any reality-music-show participant ever. With three studio albums to his name and a host of hits he more than rivals the likes of Will Young and Gareth Gates. Strangely, the reception for Lemar isn’t nearly as loud as it was for JLS. Regardless, his first tour in two years has sold very well and the NIA is packed tonight.

His backing band is very impressive, with three backing singers, guitar, bass, two keyboards and two drummers. As always for big names the session musicians are excellent and Lemar points out that he wants tonight to be more about the music than himself alone — something that he achieves admirably.

Lemar featuring JLSLemar featuring JLS

An RnB gig is like nothing I’ve ever experienced before; there’s a real party atmosphere and this is no more apparent than during ‘Little Miss Heartbreaker’, which gets the whole crowd moving. Lemar has a truly great voice and you can tell it’s effortless for him. Songs like ‘Soulman’ (an Otis Redding cover) and ‘50/50’ are impossible to sit still through and I find myself nodding my head and really enjoying his performance. Hit singles ‘Dance (With U)’ and ‘If There’s Any Justice’ highlight the fact that Lemar is one of those artists that you like without knowing it. There were a few songs played tonight that I didn’t previously know were written by him and they highlight just how successful he’s made himself. Lemar is clearly enjoying himself tonight and makes a point of thanking the crowd for their fantastic support on several occasions.

Lemar featuring JLSLemar featuring JLS

After mixing in a couple of slower songs to show off his brilliant vocal range he throws in a cover of Kings of Leon’s ‘Sex On Fire’. As a massive KOL fan I am apprehensive but the cover is very good and he manages to give it an RnB twist without doing it any harm at all. Lemar finishes with and encore of his new single, ‘Weight Of The World’, and I realise that I cannot find any weak points in his performance. He was great with the audience, he enjoyed himself, his backing band was perfect and his voice was second to none. Despite the unbelievable reception for JLS, Lemar more than justifies his position at the top of the bill and I have been thoroughly entertained.

Review – Jack McCormick
Photos – Keith West

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2 thoughts on “Lemar + JLS + The Score + Effie @ Birmingham NIA – 27th March 2009

  1. Lemar is a fantastic artist, just wish I could have made it to the event. But may be next year. I see from the video on the thetalentzone.co.uk site that he has recorded a track on his latest album with JLS. This will be a big hit when released.

  2. Lemar and jls look so hot and sex iii and they look so cute in that song what about love Aston got the smile and Marvin has got the humor oriste has the voice and jb has the talent

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