Ben Haenow retuned to the North East this month to play at Think Tank in Newcastle as part of his second solo tour, named the Alive Tour which is currently covering all areas of the UK.
The show was opened by Manchester born pop/soul singer Lily-Jo who instantly grabbed the crowd's attention with her beautiful voice and original music.
In between songs, she also talked about the Lily-Jo Project, an online mental health resource, which she has set up through her experience as a councillor, which was her career before becoming a full time singer.
Next up was Christian Burrows who you may remember from last years X Factor, who played an acoustic set with his guitar. A set which was planned only a few hours before the gig due to his ill health and struggles with his throat. Most would have dropped out, but Christian changed things up and battled through like a true professional.
I was really looking forward to hearing his voice live, as he has such a beautiful tone, and although he was poorly, he sounded incredible.
He sang a mixture of hits including some of my favourites from Ed Sheeran, James Arthur and Justin Bieber, plus some of his own songs. He's such a talent... I predict he'll be signed in the very near future, and as he is such a genuine, nice person, he really deserves every success. (Seriously, get his name typed into YouTube if you don't know him already!)
Ben then kicked off the main event with his rocky version of Ain't No Sunshine, much to the crowd's delight. There is something about small venues which make the gigs so much more enjoyable and personal, and the Newcastle crowd did not disappoint. The atmosphere felt as good as if not better than some of the huge concerts I've attended, and the adoration for Ben shone through from start to finish.
Everything was so raw and fully live, Ben's gravely tones and the live band worked perfectly in sync with each other.
Ben's story is an interesting one, from winning X Factor with the most votes in the show's history, having a number 1 single, then being dropped by Syco, it's been a bit of a rollercoaster. However Ben's music is at it's very best right now, now that he's doing what he wants to do, playing live rock/pop gigs with his own band. Ben himself said he isn't a solo artist, he's a band frontman, and it suits him so much more... It's clear this is where he's comfortable, where he's happiest and where he really shines.
Some of the fan favourites followed including Second Hand Heart, Make It Back To Me, Testify and Slamming Doors, all of which showcased Ben's vocals perfectly, reminding everyone why he won the show. The crowd interaction and support made Ben get slightly emotional during the gig... It was nice to see how humble and grateful he still is.
He also sang some tracks from his new EP which is going to be released really soon, including the amazing Alive and Forgive & Forget.
In between songs Ben chatted with the crowd, telling stories and joking about his time on tour.
The 90 minute set was over way too quickly, with the final song being his X Factor winning single Something I Need which everyone sang back at the top of their voices... It was the perfect ending to a brilliant gig.
If you're looking for a good night, there's still time to see Ben on his UK tour, with tickets available here... You won't be disappointed.
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