Gig Review: James Arthur at the O2 Academy Bournemouth


The previous X Factor winner continued his comeback with a performance at the O2 Academy Bournemouth last Friday (17/3/17). 

Perth-born, singer/songwriter Matt Gresham joined James Arthur for this leg of the Back from the Edge tour and opened the show. Gresham’s first break came on Australia’s X-Factor, however, in 2013 he decided to quit the show and pursue his own career as an independent artist. The success of his most recent ‘Survive on Love Tour’, bought him to the UK, supporting, X-Factor Winner, James Arthur.

Stripped back from all percussion, Gresham relied on his acoustic guitar, vocals and subtle electronic production to warm up the audience. His soulful tone and calming nature, appealed to more laid-back listeners. Speaking about the venue, Gresham said: “Thank’s for coming to watch one of my most favourite artists. It’s a pleasure to be in this beautiful building, it feel’s like something out of Shakespeare.” Among the audience’s favourites, Gresham performed a cover of ‘Bodyguard’ by Paul Simon which had the crowd signing and clapping along too.

Fans were screaming and on their feet as the lights dimmed and James Arthur appeared. It created an ear-splitting reaction from enthusiastic fans whose excitement brought the venue alive. Kickstarting the performance, James begun with what seemed inevitable, the title of his album, Back from the Edge. Singing gripping lyrics such as ‘you can take the drugs i have that nobody knows’, it was a powerful and intense opening to the performance. It seemed like the perfect song to start out with in order to captivate the crowd.

Next up, James performed his song ‘Prisoner’. Speaking about the song, James said: “I’d like to dedicate this song to a young girl with brain cancer, called summer, her mum’s here tonight and it’s her favourite song”. At this point, James grabbed hold of a guitar and joined his band, underneath a stream of purple and green strobe lights. Hyping up the audience, James said: “Sing for me Bournemouth!” In this song, James showed off his rapping skills, recollecting back to the days of X-Factor, when we first saw him rap ‘Tulisa-Young’.

James continued to impress the crowd, once again switching up genres, surprising fans with his rock cover of Clean Bandit’s number one single, ‘Rockabye’. He sadly admitted that Rockabye knocked him off the number spot. James also proved to be a dab hand on the electric guitar, seemingly thrashing it throughout the performance. It was a refreshing take on traditionally a dance song, which coming from James Arthur, was a shock.

“I love the energy in this room, I can feel it, let’s keep the energy going”, said James, addressing the predominantly female audience. James seemed to be genuinely overwhelmed by the packed out crowd. And the fans seemed genuinely overwhelmed by James… One enthusiastic fan went as far as taking her bra off and throwing it onto the stage! So James addressed the situation the only way he could. He picked up the lingerie and tried it on and teased the fan. Nicely done James. It was at this point, he took a moment to appreciate his fans: “everybody wrote me off apart from you, my fans. Bournemouth never fails to impress”.

James went on to perform ‘safe inside’, a slow-tempo song, written about his little sister. He also played a mixture of songs from his latest album including ‘Sober’ and ‘Skeletons,’ which he revealed was written in Bournemouth.

At the end of the last song, fans were begging and chanting “we want more, we want more” as James disappeared off the stage. James gave the fans exactly what they wanted, returning back to the stage and performing his X-factor winners single ‘Impossible’.

It was an emotionally driven set and it’s safe to say that James Arthur is back from the edge and this is only the beginning. You could really feel the anger and pain projected through his vocals and it was as if he was telling a story.

James also revealed at the end of the performance that he has “plans to come back later this year”. Think you may have let the cat out of the bag on that one James…