REVIEW: Samantha Barks Live In Concert (Mayflower, Southampton) ★★★★★

Samantha BarksAfter first grabbing the public’s attention as one of the final three contestants on the BBC talent show I’d do Anything, Samantha Barks has enjoyed a meteoric rise to fame.

Her critically acclaimed performance as the waif Eponine in the film adaptation of Les Misérables further cemented the singer as a member of musical theatre royalty. Her reputation as a formidably talented performer has been additionally strengthened more recently, with celebrated performances in Jason Robert Brown’s The Last Five Years at the St. James Theatre and a with an appearance alongside Arthur Darvill in a concert version of Honeymoon in Vegas at the London Palladium.

Last year, the young star turned her attention to her solo career and after recording a self titled album, embarked on a hugely successful nationwide tour which was met with high praise from her ever growing legions of devoted fans.

It was owing to the success of this tour that Barks decided to present a one-off concert at the Mayflower Theatre and with her excellent four-piece band and an auditorium filled to the rafters, she spent an evening enthralling onlookers with her glittering personality and excellent vocals.

The set list was an eclectic mix with songs from her career so far – including “As Long As He Needs Me” from Oliver!, arranged with a gorgeous bossa nova beat and “I Can Do Better than That” from The Last Five Years – mixed in with classic songs from the Beatles and Joni Mitchell.

Her rendition of “When Somebody Loved Me” from Toy Story 2 was a real highlight, with the emotive lyrics perfectly blending with the pure timbre of her vocals.

Musical theatre fans were in a for real treat, when in act two Barks took a break from the stage to allow West End Star Kerry Ellis to perform a couple of sensations numbers, including one from the musical Wonderland before the pair combined to sing a fantastic version of “For Good” from Wicked.

Samantha Barks completed the enchanting evening by singing a song she has now become famous for, “On My Own” from Les Misérables, which she performed with absolute class, leaving the audience in raptures.

Reviewed by Nicky Sweetland
Photo: Alex Lee Johnson