Later talent show winners – the kind dropped by Simon Cowell after one underwhelming album, whose names survive only as pub trivia questions – must wonder enviously how original Pop Idol Will Young does it.
Will Young | Rating: *** | Kelvingrove Bandstand, Glasgow
Fourteen years after his victory he’s still a commercial proposition, albeit having just hit the Strictly Come Dancing contestant period. And yet, though he has a pleasant voice and a pleasant personality, it’s hard to work out what else he’s got that they haven’t.
He bounced on stage with giant balloons and a confetti cannon to kick off with We Feel Joy. “It’s like a kids’ party!” he beamed, before launching into a series of undemanding, samey electropop numbers.
He’s keen to do Strictly, he told us, because it’s fun with “no nastiness” – like Will himself, a pop star so polite he doesn’t just ask us to clap the band and crew but calls for “a big round of applause for the promoters!” Whoo, rock’n’roll!
None of the songs – Thank You, which induced mass arm-waving, I Just Want A Lover, Changes, Who Am I – really break out of the mildly regretful/vaguely positive/achingly sincere mould. As he left the stage after, appropriately, Leave Right Now, the impression given was of a doggedly nice grafter who was lucky to be the first out the gate in the talent show boom.
But in a lesson that it’s always worth staying for the encores, he re-emerged for a very decent cover of Bowie’s Let’s Dance, followed by a funky Your Game, featuring a snatch of Prince, and suddenly seemed like a very different proposition.
Even soppy ballads Jealousy, All Time Love and his Pop Idol-winning single Evergreen were sung with more conviction and soul. An off-night, maybe, but with glimpses of how he’s outlasted the pack.