Will Young performing his Love Revolution Tour, supported by Lemar, at The Royal Concert Hall Nottingham on Thursday 26th November.

Images and Review by Kevin Cooper

Televised singing contests might have brought us a fair number of also rans over the years, but occasionally they have also been a platform for some genuine talent; two of the most durable examples have joined forces for a UK tour.

Will Young has come a long way from the heady days of battling Gareth Gates on Pop Idol in 2002. With five multi-platinum albums, four UK number one singles and two Brit Awards, no-one can accuse him of being a reality show fly by night.

And why London soul singer Lemar Obika didn’t win the BBC’s Fame Academy a decade or so ago remains one of life’s mysterious. As Will Young’s special guest, it is clear that he remains in good voice, mixing good old fashioned grit with lover man’s falsetto.

Highlights from his new album included a fantastic acoustic version of Tainted Love, that was more akin to the Northern Soul roots of the song than the Soft Cell version, and its title track, a catchy reworking of The Box Tops’ 1967 hit, Letter.

Accompanied by just a guitarist, he seemed thoroughly at home on this Royal Centre stage, encouraging this packed audience to harmonise to the chorus of Someday We’ll Be Together. But it was a storming version of his own song, If There’s Any Justice, which was best received. If he continues to be as engaging and vocally excellent as he was tonight, with a little more luck, he could yet be a headline act once more.

When Will Young appears on stage standing behind a transparent screen, wearing a small man bun and a black Samurai outfit, he doesn’t make much of an impression. His interesting new look might be unrecognisable but when he opens his mouth to sing opener, Brave Man, pelted by a fake blizzard, we know for sure that it is our Pop Idol winner.

His latest album, 85% Proof, was heavily showcased in a set which not only demonstrated his knack as a writer of memorable songs, but also his considerable charm and good humour as a performer. Delivering the glorious new soul banger U Think I’m Sexy, he followed up with Runaway. He took us back to where it all began with his moody jazz lounge version of The Doors’ Light My Fire, whilst the soaring early hits You And I , Who Am I and the theatrical Your Game, showcased that powerful voice in full flight.

As a balladeer, Young’s light tenor was ideally suited to Gold and Like A River; two of the highlights from the new album that he said he particularly liked for their positive messages. Thank You was given a feisty make over, thanks to its T-Rex like groove and some impressive backing from singer Michelle John.

Despite being a superstar to millions, he has managed to stay down to earth, and you just can’t help but really like him. In amongst his instantly catchy set list was a Generation Game moment when Young threw his merchandise, including a tip and strip pen and a cuddly bear, into the audience, and a couple of competition winners sang on stage with him. But for the most, it was one thumping song after another.

The encore started with the finger clicking Motown-esque Love Revolution, whilst next song Joy did exactly what it said on the tin. With all of these fabulous songs, it would be easy to lose track of what was missing, but a Will Young concert would not be complete without his beautiful anthem Leave Right Now. With a packed audience singing along, it certainly was a fitting end to a fantastic show.