WHATEVER your take on The X Factor effect – slowly bringing about the death of music, harmless provision of entertaining pop fodder or perhaps something less certain in between – there can be little debate about how the talents of Rebecca Ferguson were unearthed.
The shy, soulful Scouser was the runner-up on the seventh series of the singing contest at the back end of 2010. While the show is practically powered by the tears of sob stories, Rebecca's situation was a more stark, real-life dilemma.
How could a mother-of-two pursue a burning musical ambition and pay the bills? She had compromised, gone to college and stopped ‘chasing the dream’. But a third – this time successful – X Factor audition changed all that.
Three years, two tours and one million album sales later and she stands out as the most unique and authentic product of the Simon Cowell circus. For her the exposure did what it purports to do – equip a potential star with confidence and propel them into the limelight – without the usual fade into obscurity.
Her abilities were amplified in the purest sense and were there for all to see in ECHOTwo at the ECHO arena.
While some of her own songs are fairly middle-of-the-road and risk averse, this is counterbalanced by the brilliance and timelessness of her voice which could enliven even the dullest ballad.
She began with the lilting gospel groove of Fake Smile before greeting the crowd with a giggle. Wearing a shimmering, backless sequin gown and golden curls in her hair, the shoes soon came off to boogie in comfort – and why not? Miss Ferguson is at home after all.
Another early highlight is the pin-drop silence a cappella ending of Freedom but her set really picked up in the second half, kick- started by strong covers of Tom Odell’s Another Love and Katy Perry’s Roar.
Rebecca ripped through a version of Raspberry Beret by Prince and really started to let loose, issuing an open invite for people to join her on stage for a dance.
The night ended with her two strongest suits: the glitteringly euphoric My Best and a heartfelt Nothing's Real but Love, the latter dedicated to all of her loyal fans in Liverpool. They've watched her come a long way and there's no doubt she is destined to go even further.