''The Back From Edge'' UK Arena Tour is the third tour headlining the pop British artist James Arthur that kicked off on Thursday and it couldn't be any other way than pure bliss and excitement for his fans worldwide, myself included. James Arthur took the stage from Leeds in full force and without any further warning, he managed to make me become an emotional wreck throughout the entire evening.
Being my first time seeing him live, I must admit that I was particularly interested in whether his show will live up to my expectations or not. Considering that he has won one of the most important singing competitions in the world, X Factor UK back in 2012 and has ,since then, released two successful studio albums that peaked high in the charts across the world, my strong desire to see him and to listen to the masterpieces that I have came to absolutely love was nearly impossible to master. Fair to say, it did not disappoint.
The concert took place on First Direct Arena, which was listed by Billboard as the world's number one venue before it even opened in 2013. The architecture of the building is stunning and it is designed with a 13.500 capacity for fans-orientated events. The inside of the arena was equally as modern and as beautiful as the outside, where people were rushing to grab their places in the front row with large smiles on their faces. The staging was simple, which I believe that matched James Arthur's personality and it mostly consisted of the instruments of his band and a set of mini TVs that displayed the opening intro.
Ella Henderson is the supporting act for the "Back from The Edge" tour, a fellow British artist who will accompany James Arthur throughout his 11 arena shows across 5 countries from UK. To be honest, I was not very familiar with her music, but it was a pleasant surprise for me to discover her powerful voice that truly sets her apart from the crowd of artists nowadays. Her set lasted around 40 minutes and the most special moment was when she sang a new track named "Ugly" from her upcoming album, soon to be released in January. She certainly warmed up the crowd and delivered an impressive performance who just brought her a brand new fan.
The anticipation that was slowly building inside of me for what was about to come was nothing compared to how incredible was the moment when he finally stepped on stage, ready to sing his heart out on the notes of his up-beat hit "Back from the Edge". The feeling was exquisite and was amplified by the loud cheering and screaming of the passionate audience. I could not blame them. I guess I was worse. The madness that a packed house brought has officially unleashed.
The set list included his most popular hits from the latest album, like "Can I be him", ''Sermon'', ''I am'' or ''Prisoner'' that kept the public off their seats and made us sing our lungs out with him. I could not help but notice how the audience became united as one while James performed one of his most soulful songs yet, named "Safe Inside". The emotional weight that this song carried within was beautifully transposed into an intimate, acoustic and raw performance whose powerful message of love and acceptance got right where it was meant to - our souls. When we thought we could not possibly love him more, he took a moment to introduce his next song that turned out to be a special tribute to one of his greatest music inspirations of all time, George Michael. James Arthur performed an emotional rendition of "Careless Whisper'' that became one worth for the books and where his distinctive vocals shone brighter than ever, leaving us with goosebumps and tears of joy. His performance of "Faded", a slow, romantic song out of his debut self-titled album, brought back a lot of memories for his long-lasting fans and the way he poured his heart out did not cease to completely amaze me. I have not seen such strong and honest emotions being displayed in such a compelling manner by an artist before him. Nonetheless, it is so impressive to watch the evolution of an artist who turned his pain and sorrows into meaningful music that makes you, as a listener, to feel anything. It is a rare thing indeed.
Another highlight of the show was the new single that will be released next Friday. It is a ballad called "Naked'' and fortunately, we were the lucky audience that got to hear it live for the first time. Moreover, the duet between him and Ella Henderson for a song that they wrote while touring, named "Let's go home together'' was touching and the passion beyond every word was felt with such an intensity that the whole arena vibrated in unison with them.
The one thing that I always seek to feel while experiencing a live concert is the emotional connection with the artist, as well as his ability to bare out his soul in front of the audience whilst performing. The relationship between the public and the artist is crucial and says a lot about whether the singer is able to connect on a higher level with his fans beyond the music that he plays. It may be difficult to establish that inner connection with someone you look up to from the first time, but James Arthur did that effortlessly well. From the first string of the guitar, first note of the song, first sound of the drums, everything was perfectly in sync. The public showed their passion, drive and joy they were enveloped by singing along to each song and being responsive to every moment of interaction, which made the experience much more personal on both sides. In addition, James Arthur showed his gratitude and recognition several times towards the members of his band by giving them rounds of applause and through this one simple gesture, he revealed how much he appreciates and respects his team that work tirelessly to put on a spectacular show.
On the whole, James Arthur has,undoubtedly, proved that beyond an outstanding talent resides a simple, authentic and humble human being, with a pocket still full of dreams and whose professional ascent will never outreach the love he holds for his loyal community of fans, which I am very proud to admit that I am and will always be a part of. The concert exceeded all my expectations and as a result, I urge you to not miss out one of best live performances by an artist whose talent is one to be reckoned with.