Review and Photo Copyright © Graham Finney.
There is always an electric atmosphere when The X-Factor Live tour comes to town. For months, these fans have been following the ups and downs of their favourite acts from the comfort of their sofas. Now, a couple of months after the show has ended and the winner has been crowned, these very same fans get to see them in person as the Live Show hits the road.
Eight acts take to the road this time including 2018 winner Dalton Harris, and we caught up with the show in Leeds where, again, fans young and old filter excitedly into the First Direct Arena for the second date of the current run. Now, the big question with shows like this is always do any of these acts have what it takes to go the long haul and make a career out of their success on the TV show.
“I’m living my dream doing this,” announces 20 year old Scarlett Lee tearfully adding, “I’m just some girl from Surrey” before belting out the first number of the night “This Is Me”. Following Lee’s opening number, students Acacia & Allayiah bounded onto the stage adding some youthful energy to the party with their first number “Finesse”.
There are visible tears in the eyes of Bradford singer Danny Tetley as he finishes “This Is My Life” the first of his two numbers before he jokes “we’ll get this out of the way now… YORKSHIRE! YORKSHIRE!” It’s clearly an honour for the singer to be playing on the same stage as some of his favourite bands he’s seen here and, judging by the response to “Hero”, there are plenty of family and friends in here to support him on what is probably a bigger night for him than his appearance on the show.
It’s third time lucky for Liverpool lad Anthony Russell who makes up for lost time by bounding through the crowd and onto the stage for a pyro-soaked “Eye Of The Tiger” before picking a Beatles classic “Let It Be” for his second number on stage. Opener Scarlett Lee returns for another powerful song in the form of “I’ll Never Love Again” while confetti fills the air for singer Bella Penfold who bounces about the stage for “Same Love”.
Young Irish lad Brendan Murray, who finished fifth in the recent series, has a lot of fans in Leeds treating them to a powerful version of “Everybody Hurts” while Shan Ako is the first act to make use of the B-stage for her breathtaking renditions of “Get Back” and “Imagine”. Following this, Acacia and Aaliyah make their way through the crowd for a pumping rendition of “Big For Your Boots/Shutdown” while Scarlett Lee wows the crowd setting things up nicely for the appearance of the hugely popular winner by belting through “I Didn’t Know My Own Strength” and “I Put A Spell on You”.
Jamaican Dalton Harris makes an emotional entrance to the stage with “A Song For You” before dedicating “Creep” to anyone who doesn’t always feel like the superhero they deserve to be. Before his penultimate track, Harris explains how he’d wanted to duet with Shan Ako from the day he met her but, due to them being rivals, they hadn’t been allowed. Making up for it the pair put in a flawless rendition of “Beneath Your Beautiful” before Harris signs off the first half of the show with “Listen”.
The second half of the show sees each of the acts banging out their favourite covers with renditions of “Angels”, “Jump”, “In My Blood” and “Don’t Look Back In Anger” among the tracks to have the crowd on their feet while winner Dalton Harris closes the night off with his powerful version of “Power Of Love” before the acts sign off with an Abba medley.
Watching the likes of Shan Ako and winner Dalton Harris there are acts on this line-up who demonstrate enough to deserve a career after X-Factor while for others, this is their dream, they grabbed the opportunity X-Factor gave them and, for a few months, you can’t begrudge them their moment in the spotlight.