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Celina Murphy, 19 Oct 2012
As far as I’m concerned, Cheryl (Cole, née Tweedy) is an extra terrestrial: a Cindy Crawford-level beauty capable of making certified sex symbols like Katy Perry look like schoolmarms, just by sitting on the same couch as them; a woman so devastatingly pretty, Lily Allen even wrote a song about yearning to look like her.
Whether judging on the X-Factor or promoting her own throbbing pop diatribes, this Miss-World-with-dimples comes across as warm, friendly and, occasionally, deliciously sharp-tongued, and does it all in an adorable, unpolished Geordie accent. Unlike Kate Middleton, she even has the ratings to back up her England’s Sweetheart status.
Like anyone blessed with the ability to see, I too have been caught under the Cheryl spell, which is why I’m so surprised to find myself thoroughly underwhelmed when she appears on stage at the O2. Deprived of the chance to peer into those great big lagoon eyes of hers (she is tiny, after all, and rather far away), I discover my gaze deflecting to some winged, body-popping backing dancers, bounding recklessly about on cleverly-disguised trampolines, the 30ft visuals, which veer from dazzling and glamorous to harsh and rave-friendly, an effective, if occasionally blinding, light show – basically, everything but the woman I came here to see.
In terms of production, Team Cheryl have done extremely well with the A Million Lights tour, which, clocking in at just 11 shows, was never going to compare with the 200-date spectaculars commissioned by Beyoncé, Gaga and other stadium-dwellers. A trough in the crowd leads Cheryl to a grand, metamorphosing platform, from where she serenades a ginormous pixelated will.i.am with their 2009 collaboration ‘3 Words’. Along with the bells and whistles I’ve already mentioned, some masterful choreography helps to create an edgy club atmosphere on venomous banger ‘Screw You’ and Calvin Harris-aided chart-topper ‘Call My Name’.
And the singing? Well, she had a go.
What’s remarkable (apart from the fact that after being completely unmoved by her performance, I still went home and spent four hours ogling her on YouTube) is that, for all the career advice Cheryl dished out on the X-Factor, she hasn’t yet learned where her own strengths lie: her sultry, breathy contralto sounds perfectly pleasant on low, mid-tempo tracks, like the Lana Del Rey-penned ‘Ghetto Baby’, the girl’s move-busting can easily compete with the professionals around her and her abs really are very impressive.