Gig review: James Arthur, Usher Hall

James Arthur. Picture: Getty
James Arthur. Picture: Getty
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“YOU’RE Nobody ‘Til Somebody Loves You,” sings James Arthur on his hit single of the same name.

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If his recent press cuttings are anything to go by, the 25-year-old Middlesbrough singer-songwriter could certainly do with a little loving right now.

Indeed, it may be just over a year since Arthur was crowned X Factor winner, but in that time he’s been no stranger to controversy.

After a reported homophobic slur, numerous sleazy kiss-and-tells, and bitter Twitter spats with One Direction, Frankie Boyle, Matt Lucas and Lucy Spraggan, he has gone from hero to zero in the eyes of many.

So much so, in fact, that X Factor judge Louis Walsh recently opined that Arthur has now ruined his chance of a successful pop career.

Not that there was any evidence of that at the Usher Hall last night, where the singer held the packed (but by no means sold-out) venue in the palm of his hand for more than an hour.

Performing tracks from his November-released, self-titled debut album – a record which straddles rap, rock and soul – Arthur was a lot more assured than you’d expect for one playing just his fourth live gig on his first tour.

Predictably, the biggest cheers were reserved for the hits – the BRIT Award-nominated X Factor single Impossible; his first release proper You’re Nobody ‘Til Somebody Loves You, which was kept off the No.1 spot in October by Lorde; and third single Recovery, a rousing power anthem that debuted at number 19 on the UK singles chart.

The standout tracks on the night, however, were next single Get Down, Roses, a soulful number co-written with Brit producer Naughty Boy, and the unpredictably upbeat Suicide.

“Hopefully this one will get played on the radio,” he quipped before the former, “cos i’m not a homophobe anymore.”

Arthur has been dubbed as the most credible X Factor winner to date, and, while that sounds like something of a back-handed compliment, he showed here that he is cut from a different cloth.