James Arthur review: The fight to become the artist of his dreams | Music | Entertainment

We all have bad days at work. Sometimes we make mistakes and have to reap the consequences. Other times, things out of our control come around to bite us – even when we don’t deserve it. James Arthur had a rough night at work on Friday, March 22, 2024, at London’s O2 Arena… but he didn’t do anything wrong.

Quite the opposite. Out of all the artists I have seen live this year, James’ voice and showmanship were second to none.

With a couple of costume changes and a confident swagger throughout, the Middlesbrough-born star was somewhat reminiscent of Elvis Presley; a looming figure with a mean guitar strum and an epic voice.

But, despite all this, James struggled to get himself over the line during this performance.

The 20,000 in attendance were simply not connecting to him throughout the night – and I really don’t think he had done anything incorrect.

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Audiences are fickle, and anything could have thrown them off that night. And James obviously needed to feed off their energy for his performance, but he couldn’t.

“Oh, that’s what you’re here for,” James said to audiences after he quickly mentioned Impossible, one of his biggest tracks. “I’ll just play Impossible, Rewrite the Stars and f**k off.”

James’ chagrin was felt throughout the entire evening. At one point he duped the audience into thinking Anne Marie was in the house to duet Rewrite the Stars with him. “I’m just trying to wake you up,” he cackled. “Some of you are f*****g sleeping.”

Look, it’s completely impossible to deny James has an endless amount of sheer talent. His vocals soar to staggering heights, his songwriting creates evocative storylines and his guitar playing are traits to be enviable of.

Despite all this, though, he didn’t seem completely at peace with his performance – most of it, anyway.

It is obvious that his latest album, Bitter Sweet Love, is quite a departure from his previous records. Sure, it has a few tear-jerking ballads, but the songs are also filled with more guitars.

And, while on stage, the dissonance between James’ best-known hits and his new tracks was not only visceral but palpable.

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