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X-Factor Live Reviewed

Cowell flogging a dead horse? a guy in a Rancid t-shirt?

Think what you like about Simon Cowell and the X-Factor media circus, there is no denying that the pop-talent show has earned its place in the British Television history books. Despite the latest season courting more controversy than ever and with people spouting all sorts of nonsense about Cowell flogging a dead horse, this sold out run of shows to promote the current crop of pop-wannabes certainly doesn’t hint that this media juggernaut has run out of steam. In fact, if you want proof as to the broad appeal of the show, the short run from the car park to the LG Arena alone sees  a cross-section of grandparents, parents, kids as young as three or four years old and even a guy in a Rancid t-shirt.  Now that is a mass market!

Inside the LG Arena, the X-Factor Live show is the kind of slick, budget-bursting pop extravaganza you would expect from something Simon Cowell has created. With nine of the finalists on the bill there is something for everyone whether it is the teenage pop-rock of Amelia Lily, the haunting interpretation of Sweet Child O’Mine offered up by the diminutive Janice Devlin, the happy, jangly pop of 2011 runner-up Marcus Collins or the urban sounds of Manchester diva Misha B.

Obviously, it wouldn’t be X-Factor if it wasn’t for the controversial acts and last year the show introduced the world to both the headline-grabbing strangeness of Kitty Brucknell and the unforgettable nuttiness of Johnny Robinson, a man with the personality of Frank Spencer and the campness of John Inman. Both acts are clearly bonkers but, in all honesty, they were far more entertaining than acts like boy band The Risk and solo artist Craig Colton who are probably destined for pop obscurity following the final dates of this tour.

It was left to 2011 winners Little Mix to bring the show to a pyrotechnic, special-effects filled finale with their bouncy, series-winning pop. Since their headline-grabbing win at the 2011 final, the female quartet have quickly been turned into a polished act and, while they may not be the next Girls Aloud, Spice Girls or Sugababes, songs like Super Bass have the packed venue on their feet. From a mid-venue second stage, the girls bring their short set to a conclusion and, as they walk back to the main stage through the crowd for the grand finale, they are clearly enjoying every minute of this whole whirlwind experience. 

Joining the rest of the acts on stage for the show climax, you look down the line and wonder who we’ll still be talking about in twelve months time? Little Mix are a given, in youngster Amelia Lily we could have the UK’s answer to Pink, Janice Devlin has enough quirkiness to keep people interested while both Kitty and Johnny Robinson – holiday camps, cabaret shows, who knows?
The rest? well, sadly, in six months time, X-Factor 2012 will see the UK glued to their TV screens on a Saturday night and, this time next year, a whole new rush of pop hopefuls will be taking their place on this very stage.

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Graham Finney
25th March 2012
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X-Factor Live Reviewed

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