X Factor 2011 Live Tour, Wembley Arena, London
Wednesday 09 March 2011
It's a testament to the X Factor brand that on a rainy Saturday night in March, on a day when half of Wembley's train stations are inaccessible, Wembley Arena is packed to the rafters. Overnight celebrities, who were anonymous less than a year ago, are now playing to more than 10,000 fans whose enthusiasm borders on hyperactivity.
Flanked by skilled dancers, each act wanders across the stage singing already popular songs and waving to those especially rabid fans. The effect, whether it's Cher Lloyd, Katie Waissel or Paije Richardson, remains largely the same. The supersonic reception which greets tween-baiting boy band One Direction is deafening, but they, too, simply strut horizontally, albeit to a louder audience accompaniment. Wagner, the hirsute Brazilian, is the highlight: his performance is absolutely tuneless but wildly entertaining, a blend of circus act and karaoke night which fits the "so bad it's good" category perfectly.
When winner Matt Cardle emerges for his performance, the crowd are rapt. Cardle, as wholesome and family-friendly as a bowl of Weetabix, is the most assured on stage, but you sense that this is an audition for continual relevance: he's vying to avoid the supersession that 2009 winner Joe McElderry seems to have already suffered.
The musical quality remains negligible throughout, veering from decent to ghastly, but such is the volume of bells and whistles – fireworks, videos, hydraulic stages – that the music seems secondary.
What shines through is the unerring cynicism of this premise. The 25-minute interval shows sponsor promo videos and adverts for the merchandise on the stalls outside. But looking out into the crowd, an ocean of cameraphones and teenage hormones, what becomes apparent is that the conveyor-belt approach to music still works, and shows no sign of losing its appeal.
Touring to 10 April (xfactor.itv.com)
Threat of 'catastrophic cascade of collisions' must be averted, warn scientists
Arts & Ents blogs
Dennis Hopper's lost sixties photo album found
What are the best first lines in fiction?
Russell Crowe's Noah banned in three Arab countries before worldwide premiere
Sharknado 2: Former WWE wrestler Kurt Angle to fight second wave of flying sharks
Call The Midwife: Jessica Raine leaves in series three finale
Britain's top vet sparks controversy with call for ban on slashing animals' throats in 'ritual' slaughters for halal and kosher meat products
Poor 'live like animals' says Boris's privately educated sister after going on 'poverty safari'
Exclusive: Impact of immigrants on British workers ‘negligible’
Vince Cable: Teachers 'know absolutely nothing' about the world of work
Ukraine crisis: Russia pledges to 'retaliate against sanctions' as Ukrainian president says Crimea vote will not be recognised
The quiet diplomat: Catherine Ashton - recognised and admired in all the world’s troubled countries, yet ridiculed at home
- 1 Australian man Rod Sommerville reacts to bite from deadly snake by reaching for cold beer
- 2 North Korea elections: Kim Jong-un wins 100% of the vote
- 3 David Cameron resorts to paying for Facebook fans because not enough people like him
- 4 Steve Irwin’s final words: Cameraman present at death opens up about deadly stingray attack for the first time
- 5 Sharknado 2: Former WWE wrestler Kurt Angle to fight second wave of flying sharks