They used to call him the ‘singing barman’ but last night Joe McElderry returned to his old Customs House stomping ground as the headline act.
The popular X Factor winner from Simon Cowell’s class of 2009 was playing the first of four sold out dates at the South Shields venue as part of his Set Your Soul Alive tour, which had its first outing in Billingham on Saturday night.
“It has been a long time coming,” said Joe, speaking in his dressing room at the Customs House last night. “I can’t believe I won the X Factor five years ago and I’m only just playing a proper show here. Hopefully everyone will think it has been worth the wait.
“The audience in Billingham were incredible last night, so I can’t wait to get back on stage – especially in my home town.”
Joe, who had a job washing the dishes at the venue when he was studying performing arts at Newcastle College, said the demand for tickets had been so high, some of his family hadn’t been able to get one. “We’re just going to have to see where we can fit them in to stand, I think,” he laughed.
Having also been crowned the winner of Popstar to Operastar in 2011 and – perhaps less predictably – the winner of Channel Four’s winter olympics-inspired The Jump earlier this year, Joe said he hoped the setlist for the national tour, which has him booked right up to the summer, will give a full flavour of what he has achieved since Cheryl Cole picked him for her X Factor team. That said, a ski jump encore was probably unlikely.
“I wanted to give people the chance to hear things they wouldn’t have heard me do before, so I’m doing some new material, I’m also doing some new classical stuff as well as some favourites from my classical album and there’s a full pop section as well.
“So if you just came out to have a dance, there’s lots to get up for too. I want everyone to have as good time as I do up there.”
Joe McElderry returns to the Customs House for three performances on March 22 and 23. For returns, call 0191 454 1234.