Outstanding show at White Rock

PHENOMENAL! outstanding! incredible! amazing! all words that I and many others were conjuring up as we walked away from seeing Joe Mceldrey at The White Rock last weekend.

Joe has been touring with his Set your soul alive tour and it certainly was a privilege that he should not only bring it to Hastings, but also choose the White Rock to be the final night of the tour.

My reason for going stemmed from last Christmas when I went and saw Joe in panto in London. He was one of the most polite and nice stars I’ve ever met backstage and I wanted to support him in my home town, as well as to hear him sing more songs than we got to hear in the panto.

Joe Mceldrey won the X-Factor in 2009 beating Olly Murrs in the final. Both have gone on to become two of the most successful male recording artists of the series, however the little lad from South Shields who the public took to their hearts, has with the help of success in other shows such as Popstar to Opera Star, come on a long journey since those X-Factor days as was truly shown in the show.

I really didn’t know what to expect. The White Rock isn’t visited a lot by current pop stars giving concerts, and I was curious on arrival that the White Rock was not full of teenagers like I expected it to be.

But then what I didn’t realise at that point was that Joe was going to be putting on a show that would have something for everyone in it and be the most musically diverse show I have ever seen from just one artist and his band. It wasn’t just a show of his wall-to-wall hits like some artists do at a concert. He started with some new songs including a new classical number to suit his followers from his pop star to opera star show, the talent show where pop artists became trained to sing classical songs.

At one point the houselights dimmed, and as the audience had been given lighters at the start of the show, Joe was on stage singing Unbreak my Heart and Nessun Dorma while lights from the audience were swaying in accompaniment and this for me just made it an even more moving experience.

The lighting itself was exceptionally varied with even a microphone stand that changed colour and this wasn’t the only surprise that night. Joe’s dancing moves were extremely varied and at times dramatic; I hadn’t realised that he was such a good dancer.

After the interval he taught the audience a chorus so we could join in with his new Set your soul alive song and then came my favourite bit, Jukebox Joe. I have seen loads of one man shows and concerts in my time all over the UK; I have never seen anyone take requests from the audience to sing any song that did not have to be necessarily one they had previously recorded before, and then to sing them live, unrehersed, in the most unaccompanied by his band.

That to me was incredible. He did so many it couldn’t have been worked out before the show. The show continued with an upbeat, melody of current chart hits including that of the like of Pharrel Williams’ Happy which had the audience on their feet. The audience in the front row left the concert ‘happy’ that Joe had during the course of the evening gone along their row and individually shaken each one of them by their hands.

The audience in my back row left ‘happy’ that Joe had looked on up to us and talked to us during the show. In fact the man in front of me who hadn’t said anything to me during the show, turned round to me at the end and just gave me a big smile which said it all really.

Joe’s family including his gran who had travelled all the way down the country, to see his last show must have left feeling extremely proud of their young lad, who gave on the night such a brilliant vocal performance, some of his long notes being of astounding quality, and the different styles of music really showing off his vocal range.

But as Joe himself said after singing his trademark song The Climb this wasn’t the last night it was only the beginning. I hope so. I want him back, and for a concert DVD to be made too For while Joe may have ‘climbed’ up to a standard where many recording artists reach and are happy to then stop at, I get the feeling each time I see Joe, that he has raised the bar and climbed that bit further.

One of his favourite X-Factor songs was Don’t stop believing and that’s what he said to us all during the show, that he likes to set himself challenges. I believe I saw an outstanding performance and one Hastings White Rock won’t see the like of for a very long time...until his next tour, that is.

TIM HAMPTON

St James Crescent

Bexhill