James Arthur performing his Bitter Sweet Love Tour at The Motorpoint Arena Nottingham on Tuesday 19th March 2024.

Review by Kevin Cooper

On Tuesday night the Motorpoint Arena was packed with a crowd made up of all ages that have followed James Arthur along his twelve year journey from winning the ninth series of the X Factor, to selling out arenas up and down the country.

Undoubtedly Arthur’s career has had its ups and downs especially when in 2013 he was criticised over homophobic lyrics in a song aimed at Croydon rapper, Worthless, which resulted in iTunes offering refunds for his debut album after complaints. But now the trajectory is definitely on the up as he released his fifth studio album, Bitter Sweet Love, which went straight to number one in the album charts.

Touring to promote the album, the Arena erupted as the North Yorkshire singer-songwriter rose from the stage to the rocky beat of the tours name sake song as confetti shot into the air and fireworks lit up the excited crowd, starting the night with a bang. Another new song, Blindside, quickly followed before Empty Space from 2019’s You album and Can I Be Him from his apology album, Back From The Edge which immediately engaged the crowd.

Delivering a very upbeat mash up of Sermon and Ready Or Not he then joked about Anne-Marie coming on stage, only revealing that it was not so after the crowd had screamed the house down. Instead Neve, who was one of the support acts, did join him for a stirring rendition of Rewrite The Stars whilst illuminated by an Arena crowd with their phone camera lights that was just breathtaking.

After an upbeat start that had the crowd on their feet singing the words of his songs back to him, he stripped things back with a lovely intimate medley of some older tracks, Certain Things, Sleep Inside, Quite Miss Home and Emily which all served to showcase his immaculate vocals.

From The Jump and Train Wreck were delivered acoustically before the other support act, Australian Dean Lewis dueted with him on Falling Like Stars. There was his 2022 mega hit Car’s Outside which provided the opportunity for guitarist Rick Ahir to play a fabulous solo at the end of the song.

He then took the crowd on a nostalgic walk down memory lane with Young, the Tulisa cover that he auditioned with on the X Factor, and set closer, an unforgettable cover of Shontelle’s Impossible, a song that saw him win the show and which received the best reception of the night.

Back on the stage for a three song encore which began with new song, the thought provoking New Generation, Lasting Lover and the anthemic Say You Won’t Let Go that left the crowd in raptures.

James Arthur has come a long way since that 2013 faux pax. Without a doubt he has matured as an artist, who constantly thanked the fans for their continued support, as he spoke briefly about his own mental health issues. He presents as a booming figure with a mean guitar strum and vocals which soar to staggering heights. His song writing creates evocative story lines and his guitar playing is a trait to be enviable of. And on Tuesday night he looked as though he was having the time of his life playing his new, exciting and fresh music.