James Arthur at KokoCultureMusicLive music
Half an hour after stage time, crowds of young, impatient girls were no longer able to conceal their excitement and began chanting “James Arthur” aggressively. Koko London was temporarily filled with the high-pitched squeals of enthusiastic fans but still the only movement on stage was the routine fiddling of instruments. When the artist who came to fame after he stole the X Factor crown in 2012 finally appeared, there was a deafening cheer.
A year after his X Factor success, British singer and songwriter James Arthur released a self-titled album. Working alongside Labyrinth and collaborating with artists such as Emeli Sandé, he showed true potential in becoming more than just a star of the television show. His debut single Impossible, a rendition of Shontelle’s ballad, reached number one in the UK. However, after generating a lot of controversy in 2013 and leaving record label Syco, the musician was silent for two years.
This year he returned with a new album, Back from the Edge, having signed with Columbia Records. His new work is pop soul, but darker, telling a modern Faustian story. Under the disco ball lights, he kicked off with the first and title track off the record, which had the masses buzzing. “There’s a lot of you here,” Arthur chuckled as if he was astonished that anyone would turn up at all. Charming, sincere and perhaps a little awkward, the singer was naturally charismatic on stage and had concertgoers swooning.
He delivered poignant performances of Train Wreck and Recovery and his new work certainly impressed his audience. Each song was effortlessly performed and the artist demonstrated an impressive vocal range. Undeniably, the climax had to be his uplifting cover of Impossible, which had “I love you”s bouncing off the venue walls. It was sung soulfully and the performer showed virtuoso guitar playing. To the crowd’s surprise, he also performed an unusual but creative cover of Ariana Grande’s Into You that merged brilliantly into R Kelly’s Ignition.
The show finished with a moving performance of the ballad Say You Won’t Let Go, which reached number one on the UK singles chart. The combination of James Arthur’s mellifluous voice with the acoustic piano and guitar was a perfect way to end the gig. This return proved that despite the controversy surrounding the singer in the past, he has matured and is progressing forward.
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Watch the video for Say You Won’t Let Go here: