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Be inspired every day with Living North
Review: James Arthur at Utilita Arena, Newcastle
What's on
March 2024
Reading time 4 Minutes

We're always excited when local lad James Arthur heads back to the North East, and our Arts Editor (LN's resident JA fangirl) joined the crowd for his Newcastle gig this March

With a sold-out Utilita Arena, his parents in the audience, and support from Australian singer-songwriter Dean Lewis, this concert promised a night to remember. But it was in fact just a warm-up for his summer show at Middlesbrough's Riverside Stadium.

When my mum and I arrived at the arena, we had made it just in time to purchase a mega pint (cider not wine!) each before Dean took to the stage. We were looking forward to hearing his popular track Be Alright live for the first time, and we weren’t disappointed.

There was only a short break before Teesside’s X Factor winner, James made his way to the stage for this show, which is part of his Bitter Sweet Love world tour. James' new album of the same name topped the charts just days after it was released in January and it was great to see him perform some of these new tracks, including Blindside, live.

As always, the crowd were keen to sing along to Empty Space, an explosive performance of Can I Be Him with James’ signature high notes, and a fabulous duet of Rewrite The Stars from The Greatest Showman with the ever talented Neve smashing out Anne-Marie’s part whilst James played guitar. We’d be quite happy with just James and his guitar but the audience were treated to fantastic piano playing and powerful backing vocalists – made particularly magical when everyone used their phone torches to light up the arena (reflecting off James’ glistening suit). That’s when we saw him at his most emotional as he sang his 2021 track Emily (a personal favourite) with impeccable vocals.

That was the highlight of our night but two couples in the audience were in for a real treat when James invited them onto either side of the stage for unforgettable proposals whilst he sang and congratulated them. I’m not dropping any hints here… but that’s certainly one impressive proposal story. As if the night couldn’t get any better, Dean Lewis returned to the stage (armed with a guitar) to duet with James (on piano) for an enchanting performance of Falling Like The Stars (the stars of course mimicked by phone torches). We were willing to play our part in that too.

This gig proved to be a full-circle moment for James, and certainly an emotional one, and throughout the show he gave thanks to his ‘mam and dad’ in the crowd as well as his fans. It was in this very arena that James auditioned for The X Factor an unbelievable 11 years ago – and James paid tribute to that with clips from the talent show process as well as by performing his audition song Forever Young by Tulisa, and of course his winning single, a cover of Shontelle's Impossible.

We left with confetti in our hair and even more reasons to get tickets to see James again in June for his homecoming show at Middlesbrough’s Riverside Stadium.

See you there?

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