Nelly Furtado, MEN arena, Manchester

MEN arena, Manchester

Whenever Nelly Furtado appears on the Popworld sofa to answer questions like "who is your favourite magician?", she has a habit of coming out with self-consciously zany answers and screeching like a barn owl at her own jokes. But while the "I'm mad, me" shtick grates on TV, live it ought to translate into something vaguely compelling. How disappointing, then, that her current tour is such an unimaginative yawnfest.

It begins well, with a screen showing a Nelly-branded helicopter "landing" on stage. But where Pink would do something fun with it, like swooping down on her own rotary blades in a flight suit to the Top Gun soundtrack, Furtado merely appears in a Motown-style glittery dress and launches into Afraid, a track barely anyone has heard of.

And on it goes, with no decent banter, unflattering costumes and terrible choreography. A particular low point comes during Wait for You, when the four-strong dance troupe play dead for no discernible reason, before indulging in some completely incongruous Cossack dancing.

Furtado does have a good voice, and her six-piece band rejig her hits well, but surely Furtado could have come up with a more imaginative cover than Gnarls Barkley's Crazy. She holds back Maneater until the encore, which finally gets the half-full arena dancing. But the evening's highlight is a cover of Justin Timberlake's SexyBack, with lead vocals by her band member Socrates. Pretty damning when you consider Furtado is off stage changing outfits for the song's duration.

· At Birmingham NEC tomorrow (0870 909 4133), and Hammersmith Apollo, London W1, on Wednesday (020-8563 3800).


Helen Pidd

The GuardianTramp

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