Review: Whitney Houston, at the LG Arena, Birmingham
I had a sense of trepidation for the opening night of Whitney Houston’s tour of the UK.
With all the cancelled shows, bouts of illness, poor reviews and that ‘interesting’ performance on X Factor, I was more anxious than excited whether I would actually see the legendary singer in action.
But was she saving all her love for Birmingham?
Reports of the troubled 46-year-old being breathless and disorientated during Australian concerts, sadly turned out to be true.
Fans had paid up to £100 a ticket for this big return, but it was all a long way away from the fresh, glowing talent seen at her peak in late 1980s and early ’90s.
The past decade of drug battles, rocky marriage and divorce from Bobby Brown seems to have taken its toll and although the voice was still there, the stamina was not. The one hour 45 minute show was constantly broken up with water breaks and chats with the audience to catch her breath.
Early on the show was hit by technical problems when stage engineers had to come on and get a faulty microphone working.
The straw that finally broke the crowd’s back was when after about six songs, the diva disappeared to let her brother Gary and the backing singers perform some of her tracks while she took a 15 minute break. The video of One Moment In Time rather than a live performance created boos around the arena.
Returning to the stage, Whitney apologetically quipped: “Thank you for being patient. I heard you getting p*ssed off”.
The show then spiralled into more shambolics as she told the band she was changing the set as it was “her right” and had yet more breaks, which prompted jeers from the audience.
When I thought Whitney had almost reached rock bottom, she seemed to pull herself together, rattling off a series of older hits including Saving All My Love For You and I Wanna Dance with Somebody.
It was almost like her old self as she sang her heart out for I Will Always Love You, even reaching the high notes after a pause of anticipation. The encore was a lively rendition of Million Dollar Bill and I’m Every Woman.
Lee Sael, of Sutton Coldfield, said: “Really it needed a smaller venue. It got better as the night went on but was really slow to start.”
Carol Bennison said: “It was so frustrating, I just wanted her to get on and sing and she kept stopping for breaks. The final 20 minutes were brilliant and made up for the bad start.”
I was at the infamous Amy Winehouse gig when she went into meltdown on stage in Birmingham and this was nothing compared to that.
But after an award-winning career selling more than 170 million albums, this was a trult slow burner for one of America’s greats. She was not fit to perform for a whole concert.
Houston, we do have a problem!