X Factor February 2013

X Factor – AECC, Aberdeen – 19/02/13

Time for something a little different on FnS as we send reviewer B and ten years old daughter Daisy along to the X Factor Live Tour at the AECC. Here’s what they made of the show, starting with B’s account.

Daisy at X-Factor, Aberdeen

I found myself in a position I had never thought I’d be. I was going to the Xactor finalists show.

After putting up with a weeks worth of sarcastic words and phrases sent in my direction when I had announced to colleagues where I was going. I was there. Sitting in the AECC with my daughter, Daisy, waiting for the show to start.

The venue wasn’t quite full. This was the first of two nights. There were six consecutive shows last year. Take from that what you will. I was surprised to hear that the latest number 1 single from the winner was the fastest and largest selling ever.

There has been so much written and said about this show that it is hard to comment on it without going over old ground or sounding clichéd. But, the simple fact is that it is an integral part of growing up for our younger generation at the moment.

Daisy was excited, she told me about the people in the program. She told me about her favourite, Ella because she “Was a good singer and she is pretty”. I thought it was interesting that Daisy said she “was” a good singer. Like she isn’t now?

The hard sell was immediate for me. There was text competition came up on the big screens about a dozen times over the night to win a chance to get backstage. For only £1.50 a txt. Every time it came up on screen. Mums, Dads and kids themselves got their phones out. I’d love to see what they make from this alone. The cynic in me really wanted to know who won. Actually I must look back as the ad was in the program too. Must have a closer look at that miniscule print.

Maybe I’m an old fart? But it seemed the selling was constant within this X Factor vehicle. Ads on the big screens, folks coming round the seats to sell programs, videos of other acts on the screens with download details. I had been told it was a 7.15pm start prompt but didn’t realise this barrage of adverts was all part of the ‘show’.

So then onto the production.

The start was alarming. I presume it was like the opening credits of the show but man it was LOUD! I have been to many gigs in my life but this was easily the loudest one I have ever been to. Even in the days of having a gig in a garage with as many amps as we could get our hands on. This really was an incredible volume. The screaming started from the PA, which kick started the crowd and this became a bit of a  cycle. It felt to me like a group of psychologists had been consulted as advisers on crowd mood management. The X Factor equivalent of canned laughter.

Anyway, back to business. Or should that be…… away from the business and back to the singing. Or, is the singing the business?… I was confused already and clearly needed to be told how to react…   😉

First out Rylan. And what an entrance. He sang, he danced he pleased the crowd. There were flames, fireworks, big screens and a dozen dancers. Some production budget and we were only into one song. Oh the song was “Groove is in the Heart”.

Next up. Union J. Song two and I was finding it difficult to believe what I was seeing or hearing. But as said before. The “Are they singing live? auto tune? etc etc” conversations are clichéd and old ground. The Simpson’s dealt with that in the “New Kids on the Blecch” episode, eerily enough, exactly 12 years ago today! (25th Feb 2001, thanks google)

Next up, Ella. And a bit of a reminder that these folks up on stage are human. She was great. She sang a couple of songs including her own one Daisy was wrong. She still had a great voice.

Then District 3 and the volume of screaming ramped up a few notches. Whatever the X Factor is these guys have clearly got it. The crowd went daft for them. Even that odd audience contingent which was the 25-30 year old couples who were there on their own. Were suddenly on their feet, phones out and knew all the words!

Daisy then told me that the shaky guy was coming out. How did she know? I have no idea? When I asked her how she knew she couldn’t tell me. Was it those psychologists? Was it the show formula she just knew or was it just luck? Who knows? Odd one though.

Anyway, the shaky guy was Christopher Maloney. He was certainly older than the rest and clearly had the footlights dancing in his eyes. He could have been anywhere on the world and it wouldn’t have mattered. He was clearly living his dream, and good luck to him. I since discovered he was named the shaky guy because on the telly he shook a lot. Thanks Daisy. She wasn’t too interested in him.

Then Jahmene. Daisy informed me he likes to sing high notes at the end of his songs and he did. In the first half and the second. Daisy even commented that he “Must like doing that exactly the same way because he has done it twice in the same place”.

So.. you and I are both getting the idea of how this show is working. Then there was a break.

Eh?…. What? 25min break? Right enough, it comes up on the big screen with the voice over guy telling us all it’s the 25 min break. Then the ads again, and the program sellers and the merch stall and text to win a chance to get backstage… etc etc etc.

At this point I’d like to hand you to Daisy who has a far less complicated review of this evening and probably much more valid than mine.

“I thought the show was very loud with lots of screaming. But it was very good; there was a great view of the stage.

The lights and dancers were very good and they must have practiced very much. The dancers worked the hardest all night and it was probably so they could have a rest that there was a break for juice.

I liked their choices of songs. My favourite was all of them actually. I would like to go again. The crowd seemed to have a good time even thought they were a mix of kids, teenagers and Granny’s. Although there were some odd looking people there too but I can’t say any more about them as Dad said it would be rude and they might read it.

Dad and me enjoyed it because we got to see the real life people and we did it together. I was disappointed that the judges weren’t there. I wouldn’t have changed anything about it. Thanks for asking me FnS people! ” Daisy.

Daisy at X-Factor, Aberdeen

The second half was more of the same stuff but with a little more production in my humble opinion. A little more stage gimmicks, confetti cannons and fireworks and flame. There was bit with Rylan where he was in the crowd somewhere and a cartoon version of him was filling the backdrop of the stage. It was very entertaining. In fact for me Rylan was the most memorable and entertaining of the whole show.

I have to say the winner of the show that didn’t come on till last; after a massive build up from voiceover guy, impressed me with is vocal abilities. Maybe it was me searching for some kind of personality or humanity again? But, there seemed to be a very slight hint of embarrassment from him. Particularly when he appeared on the big screen advertising “A chance to come backstage and meet all the finalists and James Arthur”. Still can’t quite understand why he would name himself in such an emotionless way instead of just saying….. “me”. Maybe it’s in the contract or maybe nobody noticed.

In discussion en route to the event with someone more experienced in this kind of show. It is what it is. It’s a safe environment for family entertainment and get a chance for kids to see the folk off the telly. When put like that it sounds great. And from a kids point of view that’s exactly what it is. However, it just seemed like such a money making (grabbing) machine that it spoiled the light entertainment feel for me. In these times of financial trickiness for the masses, it left me with a bad taste in my mouth. But then again, folk were happy, folks enjoyed themselves, which is exactly why I couldn’t believe it when folk started leaving just before the end. But then it became clear.

On the way back to the car we heard screaming again there was a sizable crowd gathered outside a fenced off section with the tour buses inside and this was the final part of the show. The finalists all coming out of the venue to their transportation. Naturally, it would have been after seeing the lucky winner and a friend, who got backstage to meet the finalists and our winner, James Arthur.

It was tabloid music on a grand scale. It did feel like Olympic level karaoke to me. And I object strongly to being told how to think or react. Or maybe I just object to it when I know it is being attempted. Maybe its me who needs those psychologists?

Daisy loved it; Daisy “Would go again”. It was great to go as Dad ‘n’ Daisy because we don’t get 1-1 that often in our busy family for something like this. But then again she is a ten year old who has been exposed to a very comprehensive range of music and its all about a balance.

She still somehow knew the words to a lot of the songs.

Would I tell you to go to one of these shows?

If you have kids, then yes if they have watched it. If you are in your mid 20’s to 30’s and going as a fan, then no. Stop being so lazy and being spoonfed junkfood music and go and find what you like first. Only then would I let you go… But then who am I to tell you what to listen to and spend you’re money on?

Words by Daisy and B.

X-Factor Website

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