Review: The X Factor LIVE @ Motorpoint Arena, Cardiff

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.

Lauren Platt
Lauren Platt performing Let it Go

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.

Only The Young looking dapper performing Wanna Be Like You
Only The Young looking dapper performing Wanna Be Like You

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.

Cover your ears! Girls went crazy for Stereo Kicks
Cover your ears! Girls went crazy for Stereo Kicks

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.

The one and only Ben Haenow takes to the stage at Cardiff Motorpoint Arena
The one and only Ben Haenow takes to the stage at Cardiff Motorpoint Arena

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.

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Jazz is a Disney, tea and pop culture enthusiast with a passion for blogging. Also a proud introvert.

Review: Love Rosie

If you read my last blog post, you’ll know all about my trip to London for the day to attend the very glamorous world premiere of Love, Rosie. So, now it’s time for my review. 

LOVE ROSIE (2014)

Rating: 15

Director: Christian Ditter

Staring: Lily Collins, Sam Claflin

Love Rosie is a film adaptation to the 2004 novel”Where Rainbows End” by Cecelia Ahern and is based on two best friends Rosie and Alex whose friendship really tests the question “can boys and girls really be just friends?” as they discover the thin line between friendship and romance before other people repeatedly get in the way.

The film is set over a period of twelve years in which the characters evolve as they grow up from their late teens to adulthood, yet their feelings for one another stay remotely the same.

I couldn’t help but try imagine other actresses as the lead role but I honestly believe that this role was made for Lily Collins. She is charming, beautiful and full of charisma which is everything the character Rosie’s characteristics were. I felt as though Rosie was truly brought to life by Collins and that the events in Rosie’s life were real. Pre film, I had little knowledge of Collins and so I was surprised to find out she was actually American. Her British accent was perfect.

Sam Claflin, who plays Alex, did a tremendous job of playing the witty, funny and slightly awkward yet charming character and I even found myself slightly falling for Alex.  The both actors played the characters so well and made them two friends you’d easily envy the friendship of, despite the occasional ups and downs. Overall, the couple were the dream team you’d long for yourself and partner to be someday.

The film on  a whole is magnificent and set out beautifully. Despite the time change which occurred rather fast, it was simple to keep up with and portrayed wonderfully. Unfortunately, having not read “Where Rainbows End”, I’m unable to compare and contrast the novel and film. However, the film has in fact urged me to read Ahern’s work as soon as I possibly can.

I laughed, I cried and applauded the spectacular work of the cast, director and writer. If you love a rom-com and want to shed a few tears, this is the film for you.

Love, Rosie is out 22nd October 2014 in the UK.

Jazz is a Disney, tea and pop culture enthusiast with a passion for blogging. Also a proud introvert.