Review by Daz Gale
It's the most wonderful time of the year - the season when some of the greatest talents the West End has to offer perform concerts full of festive favourites. This week, one of the best there is has performed two Christmas shows in Cardiff and London - the amazing talent that is Lucie Jones. I put on my festive sparkly clothes (as I do all year, to be fair) to witness a couple of hours of musical magic.
Lucie Jones has had a remarkable career since coming to prominence on The X Factor in 2007. Since then she has represented the UK at the Eurovision Song Contest (and unbelievably did pretty well for us) and gone on to establish herself in musical theatre with leading roles in shows such as Legally Blonde and RENT. Of course many of us fell in love with her all over again with her portrayal of Jenna in Waitress, and it has recently been announced she will be grabbing a broomstick next year when she takes over as Elphaba in Wicked. With a CV like that, a concert from Lucie is bound to be amazing, and this was no exception.
Kicking off proceedings with 'Sweet Child O'Mine' might have seemed like an unexpected choice for a Lucie Jones concert but this was a deliberate throwback to her X Factor days. What followed was a setlist split in two - act one full of musical theatre numbers with act two focusing on Christmas songs. A brilliant gender-flipped version of 'Moving Too Fast' from The Last Five Years had me fantasising about a one woman version where Lucie plays both roles (The Luce Five Years?) while Lucie talked about the importance of representation in theatre and why she is happy that means she'll never get to be in Hamilton as she delivered a rousing rendition of 'Burn'.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, the highlights of the night were the moments she revisited her past roles. There was a lot of talk about Lucie's choice of notes when she performed 'I Dreamed A Dream' in Les Miserables, and that provided one of the standout moments of the night - I honestly don't think I've ever heard a better version of that than the way Lucie sings it. Of course, Waitress got a mention with 'Everything Changes' and the obligatory showstopping performance of 'She Used To Be Mine' which gave Lucie a much deserved mid-show standing ovation. Anyone hoping for a bit of Wicked will have to wait until 2022, although she did seem to tease the iconic close of 'Defying Gravity' with one of the final notes in act 1 closer 'A Piece of Sky'.
Lucie's Christmas set did feature some tenuous links to what can be considered a Christmas song. This included a medley of John Lewis Christmas adverts and an incredible rendition of Joni Mitchell's 'River'. Lucie's vocals shone on 'O Holy Night' while the fun she was clearly having on stage was infectiously joyful, ensuring the whole audience felt the spirit of Christmas. A closing duet of 'Fairytale of New York' (thankfully with THAT lyric removed) meant we left on a high.
It was a case of Buy one get one free for Welsh West End legends at this concert as John Owen-Jones joined Lucie, returning to the stage at Her Majesty's Theatre after previously playing the Phantom for 2,000 performances. To celebrate, he delivered a phenomenal performance of 'The Music of the Night' before joining forces with Lucie for a beautiful duet of 'The Prayer'. John also added a new festive favourite into the mix with a song from his new Christmas album 'Now More Than Ever'. The brilliant banter the pair had gave the audience much needed laughter on a particularly tough week for theatre.
We all know what an exceptional talent Lucie Jones is - with the voice of an angel. What you might know is how wickedly funny she is. Unashamedly real with a knack for saying something she instantly regrets, much to the enjoyment of the audience - and she was true to form on this evening with some brilliant lines. When you go to a Lucie Jones concert you go for the voice, you stay for the laughs.
Lucie Jones has fast become one of my favourite people to see on a stage, and this concert was another flawless moment in her already impressive career. Her unmistakeable vocals combined with a fabulous (and at times surprising) setlist created a concert that was one of my favourites of the year and a great reminder (as if I needed one) of what a complete star she really is.
This year has been pretty brilliant for Lucie career-wise. With her opening in a dream role in less than two months, I'm sure 2022 will be equally wonderful.
Sweet Child O'Mine
Moving Too Fast
I Dreamed A Dream
The Music Of The Night (John Owen-Jones solo)
The Prayer (Duet with John Owen-Jones)
She Used To Be Mine
A Piece Of Sky
John Lewis Christmas Advert Medley
(Your Song/Together In Electric Dreams/Somewhere Only We Know)
You're A Mean One, Mr Grinch/Where Are You Christmas
The Christmas Song
Merry Christmas Everyone
O Holy Night
Now More Than Ever (John Owen-Jones solo)
Auld Lang Syne
Fairytale Of New York (Duet with John Owen-Jones)
Photos by Danny Kaan
Lucie opens in Wicked on February 1st 2022 with tickets from wickedthemusical.co.uk
To get a taste of her live, you can listen to and buy her album Live at the Adelphi here
John Owen-Jones Christmas album is available here