James Arthur performing his Back From The Edge Tour at The O2 Academy Birmingham on Friday 24th March 2017

Review by Kevin Cooper

James Arthur must be pinching himself right now, because his comeback rivals that of only Craig David. There was a tumultuous period after winning the X Factor in 2012 which saw him row with some fellow musicians online, offend the LGBT community, and being dropped by Simon Cowell’s Syco label, but last night at the O2 Academy Birmingham, that must have seemed like a million years ago now.

With his sophomore album, Back From The Edge, shooting to number one in the charts, as did lead single Say You Won’t Let Go, he’s now back with Syco. And the rest, hopefully, is history.

As smoke poured over the stage and the lights dimmed to illuminate each of the band members, Arthur broke through the silence with the opening lines of new track The Truth. The title track of the album was up next which allowed Arthur to wear his heart on his sleeve as he connected with this packed audience before he showcased his rapping skills on the wonderful Prisoner.

From that moment onwards he had the crowd under his spell; jumping and dancing to his every command. With his very tight knit band he showed his undeniable talent as he performed other new tracks, Train Wreck, Sober and a really funky Sermon.

His voice really shone during a special acoustic version of Safe Inside, a song that he wrote about his sisters, before he returned to the old classics; revisiting his 2013 self titled album to sing Get Down, Recovery and his incredible cover of Shontelle’s Impossible, which won him the competition all that time ago.

With an almost two hour set rushing by his encore began with You’re Nobody Til’ Somebody Loves You, before delivering his biggest hit to date, Say You Won’t Let Me Go, which actually had some members of the audience slow dancing.

Delivering a performance that showcased his distinctive vocals, Arthur really is very talented when it comes to music, singing, lyrics and performing. The atmosphere had simply been electric and without doubt, the bad boy is back.