Midway through this seventy-five-minute early date on his debut headline tour, 2012 X-Factor winner James Arthur made the unlikely confession that he isn’t really into talking. “I'm probably just going to be saying thank you a lot,” said the 25-year-old Middlesbrough singer, and we can only thank heaven for small mercies.
This is, after all, the man who nearly destroyed his own career a few months ago by making public a song which contained homophobic insults directed at another singer.
Yet he was largely on his best behaviour here, one reference to a “GILF” directed at a lady who identified herself as a grandmother notwithstanding. Yet otherwise he was personable, shaking hands and – as predicted – saying thank you a lot to those more enthusiastic souls lining the edge of the stage at his feet.
Musically the mixture presented by his four-piece band and pair of backing singers was upbeat if not exactly divergent from the usual Cowell-approved template.
There was an affirmative anthem in new single "Get Down", a faithful if low-key cover of Marvin Gaye’s "Let’s Get It On", and some indication of where his lapses into controversy come from with an enthusiastic tribute to his hero Eminem before the hip-hop beat of "Supposed" kicked in.
His big hit "Impossible" waited until the end, and as impassioned a singalong as might be heard anywhere this year.