The winner of X Factor in 2006, Leona Lewis, had a successful start to her career with her first single, Bleeding Love, reaching No. 1 in 35 countries and two UK chart-topping albums. However, she has since parted ways with her mentor Simon Cowell and withdrew from a Broadway production of Cats in 2016 due to an autoimmune condition. With her last studio album released in 2015, titled I Am, she is now on tour for her festive album Christmas, With Love released in 2013. Excitedly, she asks the audience if anyone has put up their Christmas trees yet, stating that they are her kind of people.
Following her previous explorations into more upbeat music, the 38-year-old artist has now reinvented herself as a holiday-themed Ella Fitzgerald. Classic Christmas songs like “Winter Wonderland” and “Santa Claus Is Coming To Town” are given a post-Bublé twist, featuring swing jazz arrangements, powerful vocal moments, and a tree that lights up perfectly during the finale of “White Christmas.” Some moments in the performance are quite surreal, such as the jazz rendition of Wizzard’s “I Wish It Could Be Christmas Every Day” or the slightly uncomfortable virtual duet with the late Nat “King” Cole’s “iconic voice.” It’s possible that future generations will speak of the night they witnessed Lewis’s emotional 2018 ballad “You Are The Reason” performed alongside a couple from the audience who were slow-dancing while wearing antlers.
However, even after briefly discussing ambiguous difficulties both personally and globally, Lewis skillfully delves into the sadness that lies within Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas and is not visibly affected by the sudden plop of paper snow on her head. Her powerful and vulnerable rendition of Snow Patrol’s Run receives a well-deserved ovation, indicating that Lewis still possesses a strong voice in need of material that resonates with her emotionally.
The smooth transition from Bleeding Love to Higher Love brings her back to her R&B roots. Lewis appears surprised when a young woman she invites to sing during One More Sleep showcases her incredible voice, displaying the X factor. Despite this, the 2013 hit single stands out as a beautiful modern Christmas song, wrapping up the night with a joyful holiday spirit.