With her sweetheart status sky-high, Cheryl Cole could probably have sold out the O2 on her own. As it was, she played her biggest solo show to date as support for Black Eyed Peas, whose business-savvy leader, will.i.am, produced most of her chart-topping album, 3 Words, and is rumoured to have already written much of its follow-up.
But why was Cole hurried on stage 15 minutes earlier than announced, meaning lots of little girls missed the chance to hear her best-known song, Fight For This Love? Could BEP’s fiery frontwoman, Fergie, have been worried about being upstaged? Possibly.
In terms of audience appreciation, Cole came close to eclipsing the headliners, though musically she hasn’t yet the muscle to trouble one of the world’s bestselling bands.
The 26-year-old Girls Aloud singer and X Factor judge is still getting to grips with being the sole star on stage — during Boy Like You she blended in with six camouflage-clad dancers so well in a Janet Jackson-inspired routine that it was only her trousers that made her stand out. Slashed from waist to ankle and teamed with a tiny, silver top, the trousers were proof that how Cole looks matters more than her music sounds.
Yet, after a slow start, Cole’s charisma, long legs, excitable, Geordie-accented chat and ability to look drop-dead gorgeous in a hooded, slashed-back, sparkle-studded mini-dress really did obliterate the fact that when she stopped to tango with a sexy male dancer, her vocals carried on uninterrupted. The throbbing 3 Words had a hint of Madonna’s Ray Of Light, the outfits a definite dash of Kylie.
If Cole — or simply Cheryl, as she will surely soon be known — can sell herself as a hybrid of those two pillars of pop, Ashley can have the house.