VIEWING figures were at an all-time low for the X Factor TV series last year, but don’t assume that enthusiasm for its spin-off live junket has likewise waned. An audience of predominately parents and kids packed The Hydro to scream for their star, as the big screens and the canned voice of announcer Peter Dickson repeatedly reminded them to.
X Factor - Hydro, Glasgow
Perhaps a lot of people felt disorientated by the experience of watching essentially a low-rent version of a TV programme live and in the flesh, because many of them opted to frame pretty much the whole thing through the viewfinders of their phone cameras.
The “where are they now?” stars of tomorrow came thick and fast, with energetic and confident second-place runner-up Fleur East – she of 80s Tina Turner-esque mighty boosh hair – doing the majority of the heavy lifting performance wise. Be it gamely chucking herself around the stage to a medley of Meghan Trainor’s All About That Bass and Jessie J et al’s Bang Bang, surrounded by ripped male and female dancers, or leading a pre-interval ensemble version of Taylor Swift’s Shake It Off.
You can see some semblance of an emerging talent in East – much less so her fellow performers. Andrea Faustini was the mandatory softie who can actually sing a bit, and was thus lumped on the pukey ballads shift. Stevi Ritchie seemed to be present purely for “even you, goofy dad, can be a pop star” projection purposes (dangling him from the rafters during Bohemian Rhapsody was just cruel). It was unclear what Jay James was even doing there at all. 17-year-old soloist Lauren Platt and similarly youthful groups Only The Young and Stereo Kicks, meanwhile – the latter eight anonymous members strong – looked and sounded just too junior, uncertain and ill-defined as performers to be thrown in front of a massive arena audience to fend for themselves.
The grand finale, if that’s not a whopping overstatement, was soporifically bland winner Ben Haenow rising triumphantly on an elevated riser from beneath the stage (had he been hidden there all evening?) to variously butcher John Lennon’s Jealous Guy, fake-strum Ed Sheeran’s Thinking Out Loud and do his Christmas chart-topper Something I Need as, yes, a wall of sparks fell from the heavens. With an identity presently being laboratory-grown for Haenow by Simon Cowell’s record label Syco, we’ll see him back soon for a shot at extending his fame beyond the customary 15 minutes. Good luck making a star out of this one, Simon.
Seen on 27.02.15