Like the television circus which spawned it, the X Factor tour operates to a formula which is looking and sounding a bit tired, despite the relatively fast pace of this conveyor belt of performances from the most recent season’s finalists.
Pitching a bunch of relatively inexperienced talent show contestants into the exacting environment of the arena show serves neither performer nor audience but usually the fans can be relied upon to project hysterically on to this month’s TV idols.
However, eight-year-old Ruby, plucked from the crowd by pretty boy band Union J, was remarkably calm about her walkabout with these aspiring pop stars. Maybe she just wasn’t that into them.
Harmony trio District 3 mustered more energy and tighter harmonies in their numbers, while ringmaster figure Rylan Clark could hit his mark better than his notes, offering something akin to the blaring noise of a fairground on his tinny Spice Girls medley.
Cheesy belter Christopher Maloney appeared to have beamed in from a mid-1970s episode of Top Of The Pops, and was effortlessly outclassed by mature teen Ella Henderson performing the only original composition of the evening and the shy soul powerhouse Jahmene Douglas.
But winner James Arthur was the most interesting proposition – in X terms, a trendy troubadour who sassed up Adele and LMFAO’s Sexy And I Know It, he’s a working class soul boy with prospects.
However, across all of the night’s turns, there was something lacking in the somewhat flat, rote performances – what’s it called again? Oh yeah, the X factor.