…while this Welsh songstress inspires only cat-fighting. The Bodega Social Club, Nottingham (March 7)

Duffy looks harmless enough. Wobbling obliviously like an animatronic mannequin, the Welsh starlet gargles into her microphone with all the charm of a cooked ham. But behind the dull façade there lurks a dark company of pop puppeteers. A world tour-size entourage of roadies, session musicians, guitar techs and security men ready to antagonise an X Factor-friendly crowd more used to the safety in numbers arena experience. Boxed in to the tiny Bodega, the Duffy team order fans to get out of their way despite there being nowhere left to move.

Yet the punters’ discomfort would be forgotten in an instant were Duffy even 10 per cent of the superstar that the journalists doting on her would have you believe. Tonight, opener ‘Rockferry’ is so miserable it’s like wading through a sewage skip wearing a crown of turds. It sets the evening’s dull tone, with each song sounding less and less Dusty Springfield, more and more DFS Summer Sale. Her banal onstage banter, meanwhile, elicits such little response she gives up trying altogether.

The only really loud cheer of the night comes when the almost a cappella ‘Syrup & Honey’ is interrupted with comedic timing by a cat-fight breaking out. Even when the words “I’LL FOOKIN ’AVE YOU!” overshadow her, Duffy doesn’t flinch. By Number One single ‘Mercy’, the evening’s a retro write-off. She may be harmless, but watching her string-pullers’ utter contempt for the people that pay their way exposes the mean mechanics of this post-Winehouse princess’ rise to fame. It’s little more than a soulless exercise in marketing and PR. Don’t blame Duffy, blame The Man.

Alex Hoban