Review: Susan Boyle, Symphony Hall

The Great British public loves an underdog. Perhaps that's why we've fallen for Susan Boyle.

She was once one of society's forgotten, living on her own in a tumbledown council house with her cat.

But then on January 21 2009, she took the brave step to walk out in front of millions of television viewers to deliver one of the most unexpected and powerful performances ever seen on a TV talent show.

Five years later she is working on her sixth studio album and has embarked upon her first ever tour, and last night she took to the Symphony Hall stage.

As if the audience needed reminding, she opened the show with a recording of her introduction on Britain's Got Talent as she stood backlit by a blaring white light, but disappointingly she didn't open with Les Miserables' I Dreamed A Dream, as the recording promised.

Instead she saved that treat for the final number, as she was joined on stage by a large choir, and received a well-deserved standing ovation.

That was after she had worked her way through covers of hit after hit and musical number after musical number, from You Raise Me Up and You'll Never Walk Alone, to upbeat songs such as The Winner Takes It All.

However, you can't help feeling the songs are very carefully chosen to suit Susan - she is not a versatile singer.

Yes she has a powerful voice, and those songs that she can belt out are excellently sung, but there was once or twice last night when she seemed to struggle slightly at those points where she was not at the top of her lungs.

It was particularly noticeable with her rendition of the Barbara Streisand Classic The Way We Were.

And, bless her, she is certainly not a born performer - she looked as awkward on that stage as she did standing in front of Simon Cowell five years ago.

Even for the more uptempo numbers she did not tend to move about the stage, and when she did it looked forced and wooden, drummed into her by the producers.

But those points are picky. She has a wonderful voice and is sure to continue to draw capacity crowds for years to come.

By Adam Grinsell 

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