Writing for a Pop Culture website can have some pretty amazing benefits. One example being the chance to see The X Factor tour in Cardiff on 10th March in the Motorpoint Arena, Cardiff, with my friend and fellow writer, Poppy.
The small yet crowded venue was bursting with an atmosphere of entertainment and talent as the audience were treated to performances from the 2014 X Factor 7 finalists, Andrea Faustin, Stevi Ritchie, Only The Young, Stereo Kicks, Lauren Platt, Fleur East, Jay James and The 2014 X Factor winner, Ben Haenow. The show was laid out pretty much the same as the live shows on TV, minus the judges, host and, of course, the competition.
Opening the show was Fleur East with her cover of Macklemore Can’t Hold Us Down, which was rather fierce, full of amazing stage presence with her dance moves accompanied by back up dancers and a show of lights and special effects. She later returned to the stage various amounts of times with her versions of Bang Bang, All About That Bass, Thriller, If I Ain’t Got You and Uptown Funk which was such a memorable performance on the show last year, it was amazing to witness live and in person.
17 year old Lauren Platt wowed the audience with a more chilled version of Pharrell Williams’ Happy which was a great track to expose her vocal talents followed by How Will I Know. Other songs covered by Platt involved crowd favourite Let it Go from the Oscar winning Disney film, Let it Go and a piano version of Don’t You Worry Child.
Following Lauren was Welshman Jay James who sang to his home city with his version of Everything’s Changing by Stigma and later returned to the B Stage with Adele’s Skyfall. Cardiff were pleased to have their own X Factor hero home to perform and Jay certainly shared the enjoyment. Before leaving the stage, he got the crowd involved with singing an acapella of The Proclaimers’ 500 Miles and thanking them for the emotional homecoming.
Next came the entertainer of the night, Mr Stevi Ritchie. Although he wasn’t the favourite to win the show, Ritchie definitely had an outstanding presence in performing and is a definite entertainer. The energy was high whenever Stevi performed and he was lapping it up during Livin’ La Vida Loca, Footloose and the crowd pleasing Bohemian Rhapsody. He may not be the strongest singer but he is an extraordinary entertainer and crowd pleaser.
Cardiff was put to a standstill with the pure and angelic voice that belongs to the Italian God that is Andrea Faustini. After flawless performances of Beyonce’s Listen, Whitney Houston’s I Didn’t Know My Own Strength, the moving cover of Michael Jackson’s Earth Song and Sia’s Chandelier, the crowd went wild and left wanting more of Faustini’s golden throat.
After Andrea was my personal favourite, Only The Young. The fabulous foursome covered a swing version of Wanna Be Like You from Disney’s The Jungle Book, a mashup of Jailhouse Rock/Twist and Shout and Blame it on the Boogie which was a real hit with the crowd. There aren’t many mixed gender groups in the charts these days and I think there’s a real potential with OTY so I’m looking forward to seeing what the future holds for them.
The teenage girls from across the country travelled to the capital of Wales to see the next act and it really showed in the amount of merchandise and banners that created a sea in the audience. Eardrum shattering screams filled the arena whenever 8-piece boyband, Stereo Kicks, were present on stage. So much so that it was slightly difficult to hear their medley of The Beatles Let it Be/Hey Jude. Fans went crazy when the boys managed to walk through the crowd during their version of Backstreet’s Back and I almost lost my hearing during their final song, Run.
Finally, it was the moment everyone was waiting for. The X Factor winner of 2014, Ben Haenow, took to the stage for the final set of the night with covers of Come Together, Ed Sheeran’s Thinking Out Loud, Highway to Hell, John Lennon’s Jealous Guy, Demons by Imagine Dragons and of course finished with his winning single, Something I Need. The crowd’s energy was buzzing, the adrenaline was high and Haenow certainly had the biggest reactions of the night.
Finally, the entire final 8 came together to sing Take That’s Never Forget and brought the show to an emotional end.
Leaving the venue on such a buzz was an amazing feeling but I couldn’t help but wonder what was next for the talented bunch we had just witnessed performing their hearts out. Something only the next 12 months can reveal. I can hardly wait.
Massive thank you to Maximum POP! for this opportunity and thank you to the wonderful Poppy McDonnell for letting me use her photos in this blog post.