Live Review: Will Young


Will Young beat Gareth Gates to the inaugural Pop Idol crown almost 14 years ago. That’s over 5,000 days. Let that sink in, then try to think of one talent show finalist who’s had more success, critical acclaim and longevity than- yeah, don’t bother. You can’t.

Will’s slow transition from breathing new life (with a jet engine-powered bicycle pump) into a Westlife album track, through world-class ballads like ‘Changes’ and ‘Who Am I?’ to dancefloor electro-pop (‘Jealousy’ and ‘I Just Want A Lover’) has taken him to the Love Revolution tour – an equally extravagant and stark spectacle squashing highlights from his discography into 90 minutes.

After a fairly uninspiring support set from Fame Academy’s Lemar (to be fair, his voice is still quite something and it was pretty cool to hear ‘If There’s Any Justice’ live), men in white Hazmat suits eerily patrol the stage setting up a few translucent screens, before the lights dim and Will, in his now-signature jet black palazzo suit, appears, beginning with a dramatic ‘Brave Man’, side-on to the audience facing a constant horizontal confetti shower.

He then formally begins the show by stepping through the rubbery plastic screen and launching into the funky and bombastic ‘U Think I’m Sexy’, the stage bathed in pink light and smoke. Early highlights include his slinky Latin cover of José Feliciano’s version of The Doors’ ‘Light My Fire’, ‘You And I’ and ‘Switch It On’ – the first song to get pretty much everyone on their feet.

There’s an occurrence of stuff-you-didn’t-realise-actually-happens-in-real-life: a woman runs down an aisle to present Will with some sort of artwork depicting his dogs, and people run to the stage to attempt a selfie with the singer (he makes sure they get a proper one once the song is finished).  

Late in the gig, a conveyor belt is set up on stage, and during an instrumental Will conducts a strange Generation Game-style (complete with obligatory cuddly toy) section with his own merchandise, tossing it to the floor when he’s finished.  As the Hazmat men remove the belt, he explains they are keen to avoid “gay disease” – you’d struggle to find anyone in the pop industry as refreshingly tongue-in-cheek as Will Young. After a triumphant ‘Jealousy’, the band bound off stage, returning a minute later for ‘Love Revolution’, during which three huge banners of the turtleneck’d detergent salesman Will plays in the video suddenly unfurl.

The theatrics don’t stop there, as an enormous multi-coloured cloud of confetti descends over the audience in time for the last chorus of ‘Joy’, and everyone sways to the inevitable ‘Leave Right Now’ before the band leave the stage for good.

[Ciaran McQueen – @_delareine]   

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