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Review: The X Factor Tour, Metro Radio Arena, Newcastle

Ben Haenow, Fleur East and Andrea Faustini were among The X Factor class of 2014 who sang for an excitable crowd on Tyneside

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X Factor 2014 runner up Fleur East led the charge at the Metro Radio Arena
Fleur East performs at the X Factor Tour at Newcastle Arena

Having once again become embroiled in the drama of The X Factor - despite vowing not to watch it - I had been more than happy to play fairy godmother and book up to take my best mate’s 10-year-old treat of a daughter to see the final eight contestants in the flesh.

That was well before Christmas though - well before the end of the series in fact.

Such is the power of Simon Cowell’s talent-searching brand, he’s able to sell tickets for an arena tour before anyone has a clue who will be performing.

As it turns out, absence does not make the heart grow fonder when it comes to me and the X Factor.

And so when the reminder on my phone popped up to signal the Tyneside arrival of the acts, led by winner Ben Haenow (but really led by runner up Fleur East), I wasn’t jumping for joy.

On the plus side, I got to spend an evening in the company of the aforementioned Maggie Barksby, who is a signed up fan of the show and whose enthusiasm for seeing the live incarnation of ITV’s primetime cash cow turned out to be infectious as we took our seats in a pretty full arena.

Fleur East - the rightful winner in my eyes - got things going with a big production of Macklemore’s Can’t Hold Us. This was a good decision. As was her mid show return to remind us she was all about the Bang Bangs, and that Bass.

She was followed by the youngest member of Cheryl Fernandez-Versini’s team, 17-year-old Lauren Platt who belted out a number of tracks throughout the evening including a sweet combination of Pharrell Williams’s Happy and Massive Attack’s Teardrop and a sing-a-long style Frozen.

Then there was Jay James, who has apparently stopped rubbing me right up the wrong way. Maybe it was his hat.

This series’ novelty act, Stevi Richie lived La Vida Loca, much to the delight of the crowd. Later he went walkabout dressed as Freddie Mercury for Bohemian Rhapsody. I feel confident in saying that wherever Freddie is, he was pirouetting.

Boyband Stereokicks, who I thought always looked like they were on one of those fairground rides with the row of seats facing outwards (answers on a postcard as to what they’re called), cracked open a Beatles mash up of Let It Be and Hey Jude before turning their army of vocal chords to Backstreet’s Back and Snow Patrol’s Run later on.

Tuxed-up Italian teddy bear Andrea Faustini sang as flawlessly as you would have expected. Belting out Beyonce’s Listen among other big ballads like Earth Song, while the ever so perky Only The Young brought the happy, including the answer to what you get if you put Jailhouse Rock and Twist and Shout in a blender.

There was also an obligatory ensemble effort featuring Taylor Swift’s Shake It Off.

Unsurprisingly we were made to wait the longest for thoroughly nice guy Ben to come a do his gravelly-voiced thing. Once Fleur had put her show-stealing performance of Uptown Funk to bed, he brought the curtain and the house down with performances including Come Together, Ed Sheeran’s Thinking Out Loud, AC/DC’s Highway to Hell and his number one single, Something I Need.

A collective encore featuring a group rendition of Never Forget seemed to be a request from the assembled acts. Not sure it’s going to be possible to oblige for the majority, but we all had fun.

If you loved The X Factor, you’ll have been crossing your forearms in the air - and in delight - all the way home. If you weren’t doing this, then what in Cowell’s name possessed you to buy a ticket?

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