X Factor Live at the O2 Arena
Declining viewing figures, endless reconfigurations of the judging panel and the tenth series’ cruel “musical chair” style judging format were indicators that ITV’s shining X Factor star is slowly fading. Sitting in the O2 it hardly seems the same space which months before saw hoards of screaming fans revering the likes of Fleetwood Mac and Beyonce. Instead vast numbers of empty seats litter the arena and the only excitement appears to be generated by gaggles of ten-year-old girls.
No expense is spared on stage pyrotechnics as fireworks spurt from the ceiling, blasts of fire erupt mid-song and confetti in every shape and hue imaginable showers down in torrents. Even these gaudy gimmicks, however, are not enough to embellish what essentially is glorified karaoke. Tamera Foster begins singing Rihanna’s We Found Love while being lowered from the ceiling. Runner-up Nicholas McDonald is lost amid crowds of garishly clad backing dancers for his mediocre rendition of Robbie William’s Candy. Sam Callahan does an equally uninspiring cover of Brian Adam’s Summer of 69, Abi Alton plays a pretty yet boring, pared-down version of Whitney Houston’s I Wanna Dance with Somebody and dread-locked teen heart throb Luke Friend breaks the hearts of every young girl in the room by serenading one lucky fan with One Direction’s That’s What Makes You Beautiful.
None of the acts came close to the musical catastrophe that was the once trio, and now duo, Rough Copy. Not only were their voices inaudible beneath the heavy backing track and vocal effects, their silly costumes and ridiculous dance moves served to murder classics such as Phil Collin’s In the Air Tonight and Ray Charles’ Hit the Road Jack.
Winner Sam Bailey and teen star Hannah Barrett both manage to inject some credibility to the proceedings sporting easily the best voices. Barrett performs a beautifully soulful version of Adele’s Skyfall while Bailey’s Christmas hit Skyscraper is sung effortlessly with a pure and mellifluous vocal.
Disappointingly it is the absence of “music” which really lets the concert down. Illuminating, rousing lyrics communicated in heartfelt melodies, impassioned drum solos and guitar riffs played live on stage are the aspects of music that enthral and intoxicate audiences. It is the absence of this which will doom most of the names here into the black hole of reality television.
Photos: Guifré de Paray
For further information about The X Factor Live Tour 2014 or to book visit the O2’s website here.
Watch the video for Sam Bailey’s Skyscraper here: