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The X Factor at the Metro Radio Arena review

The X Factor hits Newcastle 

~a guest blog by Cycles with Wolves.

On Friday, the evening of the 10th March, I made my way down to the Metro Radio Arena for this year’s X Factor Arena Tour. 

To say I was excited for this event was a bit of an understatement.  I have been an X Factor viewer for well over a decade and I remember being a teenager and  really wanting to go to a live show.

Arriving at the arena, it was clear this is a family event. Plenty of kids running around with their programs and I even saw a couple of miniature Honey G’s.  We grabbed our popcorn and large drink before rooting around in our bags to get our tickets ready. 

I was very pleased to find I was five rows from the front and sitting right next to the centre part of the stage that jutted out in the audience – a perfect place to grab some up close photos!

The show was all about those top eight acts that made their way through to the live shows in 2016 and features some of the audience favourites from the show as well as renditions of classic hits.

As soon as the lights went down, the whole arena was filled with hushed excitement as ‘Uptown Funk’ began to play and the stage cannons blew out golden confetti as ‘5 After Midnight’ jumped up through the floor of the stage.  It’s clear to see the star quality with these guys as not only do they harmonize well, they can dance!

One thing that was evident throughout the entire show was how impressive the dancers were. Around three hours of straight dancing they did and it was incredible to watch- I highly doubt they went for a night on the Toon afterwards, they looked exhausted!

 As Uptown Funk closed and the boys ran off the stage, Ryan Lawrie’s Scottish accent appeared across the speakers and the arena echoed with girls screaming in excitement.  What better song could a teen heart throb sing than One Direction’s ‘Perfect’?  As he sang his way down to the edge of the ground, girls crept forward from the seats closest to the stage only to be ushered back by security staff.

One fantastic thing I loved was that the set list wasn’t all about reaching out to the younger audience, there were so many amazing ‘older songs’ throughout the show, with plenty of parents singing along as I looked around. It gave away the fact that I was raised by older parents as I thoroughly enjoyed ‘5 After Midnight’ s remix of ‘Boogie Wonderland’ and ‘September’.  I particularly loved the dancers red and black suits.

the x factor newcastle

I was most interested to see the infamous Honey G get up on stage.  She came out in a bedazzled track suit that I’m pretty sure you didn’t need the large TV screens to see her if you were sat at the back!

I turned round as she began belting and so many people behind me were on their feet rapping along to her versions of Ice Ice Baby, Jump and her own single, The Honey G Show.  The single might have tanked in the singles charts but it got a great reception from the amped up audience in Newcastle! During her single, the confetti cannons fired up again and I was covered in green paper.  Only to pick it up off the floor and realise it was actually $100 bills with Honey G on and ‘mo money, mo problems’.  I’ll take her word for it!

The female contestants dominated the show in sparkling dresses and amazing outfit choices- I particularly loved 4 of Diamonds black and white suit ensembles during their amazing cover of Lorde’s Royals.  During the second act they joined with 5 After Midnight to do an amazing harmony of Beyonce’s ‘Dangerously in Love’ which had every women in the audience singing along and feeling fierce.

Emily Middlemas first appeared on stage in a cute boho dress and large hat singing the still popular ‘Closer’ by the Chainsmokers.  A petite girl with a voice that carries! I couldn’t quite believe it when in the second act she pulled out a ukulele and sung Britney Spear’s Toxic. A rather unusual cover but it got her a lot of clapping as she ran down towards the main stage.

A powerful performance came from Coxhoe local girl Sam Lavery, who came onto the stage in a head to toe leather ensemble and flowing waves as she told us all it was always her dream to play for her home crowd. She belted out an emotionally charged rendition of Impossible along with incredible strobing lights in dedication to her grandfather who unfortunately was unable to make the show.  Later in the second half she joined Saara Aalto and Emily Middlemas in a beautiful group number to bring us No More Tears. 

The daredevil of the night and my favourite act of them all goes to Saara Aalto, who not only blew me away with the strength of her vocals but her edgy styling and daring stunts.  On her first appearance, I noticed her hair in an edgy Mohawk ponytail that showed off her shaved head and a poofy red dresses- clutching balloons? The dancers were dressed in checkered suits and the female dancers were made up to look like mannequin dolls with structured skirts. She began to sing “Oh so Quiet!” before she began to float up into the air above the audience on just a harness.  She later returned to a floating pedestal wearing a long-sleeved gown whilst doing a diligent performance of ‘The Winner takes it all”.  She was the surprise of the live shows and I personally want an album from her!

This year’s winner, Matt Terry was the headline act and he emerged in the middle of the arena to a purple lit background. His good looks had pretty much every female in the arena screaming for his all black ensemble and then he opened his mouth, flashed a smile and raised the mic. He belted out Prince’s ‘Purple Rain’ with the whole arena swaying along.  Although not my personal favourite of the acts, I can safely see why he won. His voice has so much range and power to it, no song seemed too much of a challenge for him! 

Given that Ed Sheeran’s album is everywhere it made so much sense for Matt Terry to sing us an Ed Sheeran song.  As soon as the opening chords played, the arena erupted into cheering and clapping along – even though it was a Christmas song, an interesting choice in March! 

To prove his vocal strength even more, the lights dropped and Matt became the sole person on the darkly lit stage.  The dramatic opening to Sam Smith’s “Writing on the Wall’ began and Matt was raised up on a high platform above the stage.

As Matt finished his larger than life performance of ‘Writing on the Wall’ he walked back up the stairs and the wall split revealing all the other acts.

To close the show everyone appeared singing and dancing along to ‘Sax’, hugging and laughing as they finished an incredible night in Newcastle.  Confetti and fire cannons fired off throughout adding so much excitement and colour to an already sparkling finale.

Upon leaving, the arena was still buzzing as we all winded our way through the city centre home.  Kids running around with the coloured streamers that had flown in the air during the finale and people chanting Honey G’s now infamous lyrics – a feel good atmosphere right to my front door! 

I honestly couldn’t recommend this evening enough. A perfect night out for the family or friends wanting a night of cheesy karaoke to their favourite songs!

~a guest blog by Cycles with Wolves.

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