Review: Kelvin Jones at O2 Guildhall, Southampton

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Being a warm up act is never easy, especially when you are in a room with people who are clearly waiting for James Morrison to arrive on stage. But there is a skill to a good warm-up performance: quirky lyrics, energy and audience reaction. It’s a shame that Kelvin Jones failed on all three with nerves, a sobering reaction and a set of songs that looked like they had been scrapped from Ed Sheeran’s reject list.

The main problem was that all the songs sounded the same, and there was little light and shade throughout the performances. His “hit” single ‘Call You Home’– which has amassed half-a-million YouTube views – is extremely repetitive. Even more annoying was the X Factor-style sob-story that came before it where he admitted to having produced the song for his “one love” but never got the chance to tell her. Who knows? Solid chance he might be on next year’s X Factor. This performance was perhaps one of the better though, its beat got some audience reaction, at least. Other originals, however, were not so lucky. ‘Closer’ and ‘New York’ remained with the same beat throughout and showed very little individuality or difference. They also amassed very little reaction from the 2,000 strong audience. Jones was also clearly nervous. This isn’t necessarily always a bad thing – and can be endearing – but here you could sense he was overwhelmed by the crowd. It’s understandable: this is his first tour and one of the bigger venues the tour covers.

It isn’t all bad news, though. Jones’ cover of ‘I Can’t Feel My Face’ by The Weekend was surprisingly good. He adapted the beat and brought originality, sensitivity and passion to the song. His vocal range was strong and he exposed a sense of emotion that got him his biggest applause of the night. Perhaps this exposes his key weakness: that the lyrics in his own songs are just not good enough. For the moment, he might be better of being a cover artist.  His closing number ‘If You Know’ failed to impress, though the electric guitar solo at the end was promising and built up the energy for James Morrison’s entrance.

If I was giving this a rating, it would have to be two stars, or maybe two and a half. Jones certainly has promise: he showed he could be sensitive, he does have a good vocal range, and he rocks the Ed Sheeran-esque look with his own adaptions. But his songs let him down; they show no sense of individuality and – on the whole – become repetitive and underwhelming. Perhaps we might see better from him in the future.

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Philosopher and Historian and major pop-fan. You can find me listening to most pop in the charts (Beyoncé and Sia are most certainly goddesses), as well as some modern jazz and classical and enjoing the occasional trip to the theatre. I'm also interested in the repurcussions of the representation of sex in modern-day media! And I might be a fan of the X Factor. Sorry, I can't help it...

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