James Arthur at IndigO2
It’s already difficult for an X Factor finalist to find true and lasting success. Singing competitions are laden with negative connotations indicating only commercial musicians with aspirations of selling out are attracted to these shows, automatically writing off any talent or passion they may have. While this may be a heavy price to pay for some, the other side of the coin does however provide contestants with a ready-made fan base waiting for them upon leaving the competition, albeit an increasingly dwindling one due to decreasing viewer ratings.
James Arthur appears on stage rather tellingly dressed as Elvis Presley, indicating an impending lack of originality from his set. From his eponymous album, Arthur performs Emergency, a barely catchy attempt at soul with slow raps that fail to convey any meaning. As Arthur covers Blackstreets’ No Diggity, it falls embarrassingly short of the original, not through lack of talent but energy. This is not to say that Arthur does not have support, he certainly does; fans (mostly young girls) scream and wave their arms accordingly but the audience seems to provide most of the atmosphere while Arthur himself remains comparatively reserved.
The stage is then bathed in red light as Arthur performs Roses, a pseudo-emotional love song that nevertheless remains popular with the audience. Having said that, it “smells like roses to me” is too much of a a heady cliché. Suicide and Recovery manage to better display Arthur’s vocal abilities, and the removal of his sunglasses and the shedding of the Elvis Presley persona he inexplicably donned allows his music to more effectively shine through as original creations from a potentially promising artist.
Arthur does not lack in musical ability, but he seems to be stuck in the competition mentality, aiming to please his judges instead of owning the stage and the music he has created. With talent and fans, he does not have too far to go to reach success, but the cloud of X Factor and his own personal controversies may obscure his music for a while yet.
Photos: Natalia Friedman
For further information and future events visit James Arthur’s website here.
Watch the video for Recovery here: