Home > Reviews > Live Reviews > 19/02/2011 | Ben Montague & Leddra Chapman – O2 Academy, Oxford

19/02/2011 | Ben Montague & Leddra Chapman – O2 Academy, Oxford

Lisa Ward


Leddra Chapman has a ring to her that seems to combine Kate Nash and Florence and the Machine. In fact as she opens with the punchy A Little Easier there’s also a distinct Anastasia vibe to her vocals. It contains a nice mix of up tempo melodies, driven by the addition of guitar and A Capella interludes, which means I’m almost instantly sold. Still as the set progresses I’m drawn back outside the building where a tour bus sits with her name emblazoned on the rear and my favour begins to wane. Leddra is good but I can’t help but expect for more from a student of The London College of Music.

Though the heartfelt ballad Wine Glass highlights how a multitude of musicians can still create a sympathetic melody, and the piano led Story weaves syrupy vocals over intricate rhythms, like Florence the real flaw comes in Leddra’s seeming lack of vocal control. As notes waver off into the abyss at the end of each sentence I sit struggling to hear all the words. The fans down the front, who generously provide Leddra with a cake before the show, will no doubt disagree and as she launches into a cover of Jamie T’s Sheila she seems to regain the spark she had at the start. Nevertheless new song Sexy Dizzy, (which samples George Michael’s classic Faith) though striking, is equally cumbersome and whilst I can envision the youth of today being sold on the blonde bombshells happy-go-lucky vibe, sadly as a nearly 30-something, I’m less enticed.

When Ben Montague opens his slot with the rocky refrains of Overcome my interest regains, the number, fusing what can only be described as stadium rock riffs with an understated ballad instantly reminds me of the Script, and I mean that as a compliment. This coupled with the power-pop Jennifer has plenty of the crowd stamping their feet and it’s clear that there’s the potential for mass market appeal.

His cover of Lennon’s Jealous Guy and last single Broken weave their way into Will Young territory and this combined with the piano driven Haunted act as a marker of Ben’s ability to command the more mellow territory. Nevertheless like Leddra, the fact that similarities to other artists come so readily leaves a shadow of doubt to where things might progress.

The fact that Leddra and Ben have both been championed by Radio 2 over the past couple of years probably says everything you need to know. Middle of the road, inoffensive and catchy numbers seem to be the order of the day. Whilst both have their charm, I can only suspect that like the audience clap-along in another of Ben’s new songs, their longevity is uncertain in an era when the desire of most music connoisseurs is for something new.