Last night James Arthur wowed the audience at London’s Eventim Apollo, the lower level packed solid with fans of the artist whose third album, ‘You’ was released last Friday.
Opening with the title track from his new album, Arthur kept the fans in the palm of his hand, occasionally imploring them to “put those fucking hands up”, and to those seated in the circle, “stand up! It’s not a cinema!” When members of the audience yelled out that they loved him, James replied that he loved them in return; it’s clear he has a close relationship with his fans.
James Arthur has come a long way since his X Factor days in 2012, but it’s clear he’s still the same vulnerable and shy person he was back then. Every so often he’d take a break from singing to tell the backstory of a song. One such example was the song ‘Breathe’, with Arthur explaining that the idea for it came to him while he was in New York. It’s a very soul-infused track, which makes you realise that James Arthur isn’t just rock and pop, he also does rap, and funk, and soul as well.
He stopped another time to go into detail with “an irrelevant story”. Hardly irrelevant at all of course – he talked about when he was “a young emo”, not caring about much, and his favourite band of all time growing up was Long Island rock band, Taking Back Sunday. James based his song, ‘Unconditionally’, on their track, ‘Cute Without The E’, and when he asked their permission to use it, they advised that they would own the publishing rights. But it all worked out just fine in the end, lead singer Adam Lazzara joined him in the studio to record the track. You get the feeling that Arthur is pretty content with his life right now and doesn’t take it all too seriously – he just goes along with it, and if things work out, then they work out.
The banter continued throughout the night, not necessarily directed at anyone in particular, but nonetheless the fans lapped it all up. He mentioned that ‘You’ is currently in a chart battle on iTunes, and stands a good chance at reaching the number 1 spot this Friday. He asked for everyone to download it from iTunes – “gift it to your mates, even if they hate me!” A few songs later he added, “Specifically iTunes. Did I mention iTunes?”
Stand out songs of the evening included ‘Rewrite The Stars’, from ‘The Greatest Showman: Reimagined’, on which he duets with Anne Marie. James found this a perfect opportunity to banter with the audience, announcing that Anne Marie would come out and join him – before telling us nah, he was just messing….but they did have “Dan Marie” on keyboards, and Ricky on guitar!
James Arthur’s vocal range is magnificent, he can go from stirring, hard rock tracks – he had no costume changes during the night but plenty of guitar changes – right through to syrupy ballads. The variety of songs on his latest album, ‘You’, is also brilliant, from the emo tracks like ‘Homicide Love’, to the upbeat title track. They made for great songs to perform live, with James and his four piece band giving the audience something to hold onto all the way through.