Lemar, Royal Albert Hall, London – April 9th 2009
By the time Lemar took to the stage last Thursday, the crowd were already lathered up into a foaming frenzy by scream-inducing support act JLS: X Factor to the Royal Albert Hall is quite a feat for the buff foursome. However, the London lads need to work on their vocals somewhat to match the main act, who, seven years on from his own reality TV exposure on Fame Academy is showing that he can hold his own with some style, his soulful voice thrilling the packed venue with its power and range…
Lemar appeared on stage in the same angular chair that he sits in on the cover of his fourth album The Reason, which was heavily showcased here. Launching into the title song to get the party started, his athletic frame and smoky voice were the perfect combination and on second track Little Miss Heartbreaker, he even demonstrated some silky dance moves, aided by his willing backing singers.
That Lemar can sing was never in doubt, but his stage presence was a sheer revelation, bounding around the minimal set, straddling the mic like a rock star, hitting the high notes when needed and perching on a stool for gorgeous ballad What About Love? Old favourites likes 50/50 and Dance (With U) got the crowd up and dancing; If There’s Any Justice invoked the biggest singalong of the evening; and there was plenty for couples to get amorous to, which Lemar instructed just before launching into Wait Forever. However, perhaps for his next album Lemar should shelve the soul/r&b somewhat and delve into rawk – his bare-chested cover of Kings of Leon’s Sex On Fire, hood up and voice firing, was immense.
Soulful, slick, smooth and sexy, Lemar ticks all the boxes for a soul crooner, including plucking a woman from the audience mid-set for a smooch on-stage and demanding participation from his audience, which he returned fully. The only low point was a rendition of trite war ballad Mayday. “This has been one of the best nights of my life,” Lemar told the crowd before launching into his one and only encore Weight Of The World. Prior to The Reason, Lemar had been questioning his role in music and quietly searching for his mojo. After this triumphant performance, we think it’s safe to say he’s found it again.