The X Factor: Danyl Johnson, Olly Murs and Stacey Solomon at Newbury Racecourse, on Saturday, May 22
NEWBURY Racecourse’s summer series of Party in the Paddock post-racing concerts kicked off on Saturday in suitably starry style with performances by three of last year’s most memorable X Factor finalists. And much as I hate to ever admit that Simon Cowell is right, it was runner-up Olly Murs who shone in front of the 13,000 racegoers, making it clear why Cowell awarded him a record contract after he lost out in the X Factor final.
All three singers focussed on the songs for which they are best-remembered from the X Factor, which meant that Murs’ set was a little heavy on Robbie Williams songs, performing both Angels and She’s The One. Like Williams, Murs’ appeal is in his eccentric dance moves and rapport with the audience, but he demonstrated enough charisma of his own to avoid the performance coming across as note-for-note Williams tribute. Let’s hope that his debut single is a better song than that allocated to X Factor winner Joe McElderry, who was given turgid ballad The Climb to grapple with.
While Reading lad Danyl Johnson may not have the starry charisma of Murs, he was the most interesting of the three, as well as attracting a strong local following that saw him bumped up above Murs to headline the bill. Having been over in the USA working on his songwriting, Johnson took the step of showcasing a well-received new song, Beautiful Life, whereas Murs and Solomon kept their forthcoming singles firmly under wraps. Johnson performed with a guitarist, which made a refreshing change from the predictable tracks backing the other two performers, and kept the funk alive with crowd-pleasing performances of Prince’s Purple Rain and Michael Jackson’s Man in the Mirror.
While as giggly and entertaining in between songs as she was on the television, Stacey Solomon’s effervescent personality failed to transfer entirely to her live performance, suggesting that not all performers who can face the wrath of the X-Factors fearsome judges and win over millions of television viewers can always sparkle away from the studio lights. Particularly disappointing was her slightly lacklustre performance of Queen’s Who Wants To Live Forever, which had been the highlight of her X Factor “journey”.
With a local singer rumoured to have made it to the boot camp stage of this year’s series, there is a chance that Newbury might be embracing the X Factor wholeheartedly when it returns in the autumn. In the meantime, Party in the Paddock performances by Simply Red on July 9 and Westlife at Ladies’ Day on August 14 should keep punters keen on star-studded musical performances more than happy.
- First published in Newbury Weekly News on Thursday, May 27, and at Newbury Today at http://www.newburytoday.co.uk/News/Article.aspx?articleID=13396