London Wembley Arena

There's a distinct lack of interest in the air as she shamelessly plugs her new album, [B]'My Love Is Your Love'[/B], and berates the faithful for lack of applause...

How can she fail? She has one of the most powerful, soaring voices in the business, she’s beautiful, sassy and related to Dionne Warwick. Even bad-boy hubby [a]Bobby Brown[/a] is side-stage tonight to offer encouragement, dancing, singing along and whooping it up. But somehow Whitney leaves you cold, like she always has done.

Since her halcyon days in the ’80s and her subsequent rise to America’s officially-endorsed number one diva, things have moved on. Lauryn Hill and Missy Elliott are at the top of the American R&B/soul pile now. That’s why Whitney roped them in to work on her latest album. Indeed, the Missy-influenced ‘It’s Not Right But It’s Okay’, produced by Rodney Jenkins, is Whitney‘s finest single to date.

But judging by tonight’s crowd – mostly white, middle-aged – Whitney should perhaps forgo progression and stick to the old tunes, the ones that made her millions. Because there’s a distinct lack of interest in the air as she shamelessly plugs her new album, ‘My Love Is Your Love’, and berates the faithful for lack of applause.

In fact, any hopes she harbours of entering a new age of cool credibility are effectively scuppered for precisely that reason. The mums, grans and kids don’t wake up until she plays that song. The one that stayed at Number One for 20,000 years and soundtracked her awful movie with Kevin Costner. [I]”And I-e-I-e-I-ey-I will always love you-oooo-oooo”[/I], she coos, and Wembley visibly melts.

Thankfully after this we’re spared any further vocal wigouts because Whitney decides to play it low-key, leaving her 20-piece band to carry the show through numerous costume changes (ranging from a luminous green stoat around her neck to a luminous pink one) and, well, most of the songs. Somehow you feel as if she isn’t trying as hard as she could be, but let’s face it, she doesn’t really have to.

The one-song encore is a half-hearted version of ‘It’s Not Right…’ and that’s it. She loves us all, she can’t wait to come back and, er, she loves us all. Fireworks at a minimum, this was Whitney the true professional in action. And that’s the problem.

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