While Katie Waissel's Christmas Singalong on the top floor of Exchange Square's Selfridges in Manchester was far from perfect, it was a festive affair and a chance to glimpse just how good the starlet could be at full health.
To be fair, the fates were conspiring against Katie from the beginning on this one. Being 15 minutes late taking to the stage is no surprise from any performer, although a few people weren't prepared to stick it out for a few minutes and decided to leave instead. The only real criticism that could be levelled at this event is a lack of preparation - the sound levels weren't right, leading to feedback and overly loud vocals throughout, and Katie hadn't had chance to practise with the backing tracks, which left her lost at times.
However, criticisms aside, Katie showed real spirit in battling through a sore throat that may well be suffering from overuse after a couple of intensive weeks of touring the UK. She dealt with the feedback well and did her best to fix the sound balance mid-song. I imagine my position to the right of the stage was one of the few places from where you could see her mouthing "More track!" at her sound mixer, only to have her vocals nudged even louder than they already were.
All of this left the audience drowned out, rendering any opportunity of a singalong somewhat moot. To her credit, Katie did her best to involve the crowd in the singing - even handing over the mic to those near the front - and added some chat to the proceedings. She even remembered to thank her Waissel Warriors, which was nice. All in all, annoyingly enough, there was the perfect balance of things for the critics to latch on to and good points for fans to relish. Putting circumstance to one side, the following paragraph is what really matters:
Katie's emergence on to the stage was met with firm applause from the 150-200 people I guess were crammed into one end of Selfridges Exchange Square's top floor. I'd been there for about half an hour by the time she made it out there, and most of the audience had been there for longer. Despite the difficulties described above, and her illness, Katie gave a solid vocal performance which, in places, even surprised me - and I've listened to all of her X Factor performances tens of times and have probably heard Ray of Light 200 times by now. I have a lot of spare time.
She looked lovely and was, as ever, friendly and self-effacing. OK, she hadn't had chance to work with the backing track or practise the songs really - but she said that from the start and used it as a chance to get the audience involved in helping her along. This was a singalong, after all. It's this kind of vulnerability and wonderful imperfection that fans love about Katie and, frustrating as it was to see her show disrupted by dodgy volumes and forgotten words, I wouldn't have her any other way. Bring on 2011 and the first Katie Waissel album.