|By Glenn Meads|
Superstar blog: First live show
Date: 16 July 2012
Just like previous shows following this format - the opening of 1st live show features all the contestants doing a group number. The song is the title track from the musical and unfortunately, many of the gents revert to screeching like rats. Tonight is really designed to allow the public to get to know them. Hence the line "Let's hear it for the Jesuses." It feels like a spoof but this is prime time TV. In true X Factor style, 10 places become 11 and Jon is offered a place and a chance to sing.
Former band member - has toured with McFly. He sings Ceelo's "Forget You" and sadly about halfway through, that's exactly what I do. The song has no relevance to the role. All it proves is that this guy has got pop star qualities. We knew that anyway. Melanie C does not agree. "Wow! What an opener" - she says. Jason describes him as a "natural on stage." Dawn praises him too caying that she thinks he "did very well." The Lord sums it up really when she says: "I remember the muppets doing that as chickens."
I love the V.Ts for these intros as often we are just given every stereotype you can think of. Here, we get Dirk's parents watching old home videos of him. It's almost implied they watch these every night. If you think about that for real, it becomes spooky. The clean cut vote is up for grabs here and he sings Bob Dylan's "You Make Me Feel." Although it's been Adeled - here it's been Westlifed. If this was Britain's Got Talent - great but it's not. Mel says it is a "beautiful performance" and you realise she has lost any ability to constructively criticise. Dawn says: "You Make that Dirk's song." Andrew points our that "Jesus was a leader of men" - in other words - cut out the boy band impression.
Now wait for this one because out of all the V.T intros and here you say Nathan playing with his ummmm..... snake. How rock 'n' roll. Clearly. we are ater the Alice Cooper vote here. So why sing "Sign Your Name" - then? With dancers more suited to Wagner's performance on X Factor - there is much to distract. Nathan has a habit of murdering songs and he strangles this one. Lack of constructive criticism follows with Mel's "One of the most incredible vocalists I've ever heard." (Compared with Victoria Beckham, surely?). Jason says he is: "Confident, sensual and sexy." Dawn says that his strength "may lie in his gentleness." The Lord speaks sense and says: "You may suffer from over confidence." Halleluljah!
Ben is billed as a Billy Elliot type figure who left Newcastle for fame and fortune and headed for London. He sings: "Somebody That I Used To Know" on his back to begin with. Very odd as feels like he's in the bath. Vocally though, he is superb and has tremendous acting ability too. At last, a contender! Mel C agrees and loves his performance. Jason says: "gives me shivers" and Dawn says he has "Phenomenal range." Andrew says he has a "Wonderful vocal" but disputes his acting.
One things is becoming clear though. Dawn French - great actress, comedienne and writer. But this show and her? It feels like miscasting.
You can tell this lad is Irish, as just like a Hollywood movie - we see shots of Guinness and Nial's family. He's been made over too. Out come the hair straighteners and the Clinique. He sings "Stay" by Hurts and all you are thinking is: "Where did I put their CD?" His vocals are quite flat and strained. Mel says a Cheryl Cole type line: "Girls are gonna love you." Andrew says this is "Like the final of most Reality Shows." Is it?
Before we see Tim I have a premonition that they have made him sing topless. Thankfully, they don't humiliate like that. But they do lumber him with an unsuitable song "Stone Cold Sober" - one of Paloma Faith's least known numbers. It comes across like a Cabaret number and is totally unsuitable. He does the best he can with it but it looks designed to end up in the bottom two, to be honest. Dawn realising he was burnt alive says: "I didn't expect to see you smoulder" and Jason says "You came out fighting." Mel describes him as the "Most musical of contenders." Realising he's been stitched up - Andrew says "You are what this programme is all about." What? Killing peoples' careers?
Roger is a tough guy to sell to the public as he has starred in one almighty musical - The Lion King. So they market him as model, pop star and West End star - a triple threat. He comes out singing ""Whiter Shade of Pale." An odd choice for a song as it never gives him the chance to let go. The song choices need looking at because this one is dated and forgettable. Dawn like it and says: "You would make a very cool Jesus." Mel thinks he's running the London Marathon dressed as a chicken and says: "You have a lot of dignity." Jason says he has a "Wonderful tone" but that he is "apprehensive on bigger notes." Andrew says he would be "Amazing with Tim" (Minchin). Am I watching the same show?
Now, here is a worker. Jon describes himself as a "singing cockroach" which is unfortunate as that's now what I see before me! He's put that image there. He reminds me of a Craig Chalmers type and he went on to tour with Joseph. Styled to look like he's a Take That tribute band member, Jon is likeable but does perform like he's on a Cruise Ship. He has good stage presence though but "Since You've Been Gone" is not great for a show like this. In true underdog style, the judges rally round him. Jason says: "You have absolutely blown me away." Has he been to a Harvester before? Mel says he deserves a place and Dawn echos that. The Lord tells him to leave "Butlins behind."
There's still three more to go folks. Jesus!
This guy is presented as a gym bunny with a supportive family. He sings "Next to Me" and is a very likeable performer. He does perform like a leader and has bags of confidence. He would get kids into an arena but is he Jesus? Did I really just type that? I like the fact that he can do vulnerable or strong but he is a bit too poppy for this show. Jason says he has "Lots of light and shade." Dawn likes him and the Lord says he "Needs more grit." Due to flogging you more goods you don't need, Mel is not asked.
This Jesus is shown kicking a ball around, complete with beard and shoulder length hair and irish accent. It's all very George Best and looks like a trailer for the musical "Dancing Shoes." You expect him to have a big rock voice as he's in a band but Jeff does not belt out "Red" in the way that you would like. He comes across like an above average singer but not an actor. He does not really perform the song, he simply sings it. Jason agrees stating that he needs to "Develop as a performer." Dawn says she "Really enjoyed that." It's almost as if she's just happy to be out of the house. Mel says he needs to "Believe in" himself. Andrew tells him to "Inhabit his own skin" which makes me think of Silence of the Lambs.
The VT shows Rory's guitar and a beach. This guy would be perfect for Britain's Got Talent - give him an Ed Sheeran song with references to "Lego" and "cups of tea" and he'd be away. Then he says the line of the night: "I've always wanted to play Jesus." This is the stuff that a UCAS personal statement nightmare is made of. He sings "Are You Gonna Go My Way?" It feels like one of the guy's gigs. He does no acting whatsoever. This performance does nothing for me. During his number, we cut to Andrew who looks like he is catching flies. Dawn (guess what?) loves it, Mel sums up my thoughts but does it kindly calling him "Rory the rock star." Andrew states: "That was quite fantastic."
Phew! That's it then. So, the first live show? Dawn is miscast in a judge's role, Mel needs more bite and the contestants need better songs. At the moment it feels like a love child of X Factor with BGT with a few biblicals references thrown in. Who stood out for me? Ben, undoubtably.
- by Glenn Meads
Any opinions expressed above do not represent the view of Whatsonstage.com nor any of its staff or contributors beyond the bylined author.
|Glenn has covered the Manchester theatre scene for Whatsonstage.com since 2001. Since then he has edited whatsonstage.com/manchester and he currently edits the North West site, as well as providing news, reviews, features and competitions.|
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