REVIEW: Ben Haenow at Manchester Academy 2

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THE loveable 2014 X Factor winner Ben Haenow began his seven-date UK tour at the Academy 2 on Friday night to the enjoyment of his loyal if limited fan base. Quays News entertainment reporter Jordan Davies went along…

The charismatic 31-year-old may not have enjoyed the overwhelming success of previous X Factor alumni but he still put on a show full of life and vigour featuring songs from his debut album as well as some of the hits that earned him success on the ITV show.

Following the unknown James Plimmer onto the stage, the smiley Haenow was greeted by many screams from the crowd and he waved excitedly outwards clearly overjoyed to finally be meeting his public.

The show began with two album tracks ‘Start Again’ and ‘Way Back When’ before one of the most popular songs of the night, his most recent single ‘Second Hand Heart’. The recording of this track featured Kelly Clarkson and Haenow joked that the Texan songstress would be joining him onstage before asking the audience to fill in for her. The subsequent performance well extremely received and earned Haenow one of the loudest cheers of the evening.

The show continued with ‘One Night’ in which Haenow showcased his cheeky chappy personality by taking a member of the crowd’s phone and FaceTiming their mother before the first cover of the night The Beatles Come Together’ which he performed on week eight of The X Factor.

The night took a slower and more heartfelt turn with the ballad ‘Slamming Doors’ which the singer wrote and undoubtedly carried significant meaning for Haenow, most notably the line ‘if this is love then why do we fight for it’ where the Londoner’s passion was most evident. Haenow then pulled a young girl from the crowd and held her hand during ‘Lions’ which was popular with the Mancunian crowd and justified Haenow’s ‘nice guy’ image.

He then sung a song for his mother ‘Every Tear You Cry’ before the atypical pop song ‘Greatest Mistake’ and the mid-gig slower section was brought to a close by ‘Make It Back To Me’ which Haenow performed with a piano his only musical accompaniment.

Another cover, Marvin Gaye’s ‘I Heard It Through The Grapevine’ raised the tempo of the gig again before performing the late album track ‘Brother’ whilst some members of the audience were partially distracted by a woman in the crowd who appeared to be in her mid-fifties and was throwing herself around the venue seemingly making up new dance moves.

As the main set nudged towards the close he sung ‘Testify’, which features on his album and was written by Daniel Bedingfield. At this point Haenow was leaping and bounding around the stage enjoying himself as much as anyone else in the audience, including our mid-fifties friend who was still creating a new genre of movement towards the back of the Academy 2.

The final song before the anticipated encore was ‘All Yours’ in which Haenow orchestrated a click from the crowd rather than the usual clap, such was the attention each member of the 800+ strong onlookers was giving the singer.

During the couple of minutes in which Haenow had temporarily departed the stage the audience banged and whooped for his return. A rendition of his X Factor winner’s song ‘Something I Need’ was started by a collection of the viewers to the left of the stage who awaited the track which most of them will have voted for when he was on the ITV talent show.

The singer returned, now wearing one of the tour shirts that were being sold downstairs which he knew was a cheap plug but his smiley nature meant he could get away with it, and he played one of the bonus tracks from his album ‘Ready for You’ ahead of the eagerly anticipated ‘Something I Need’ which closed the show. This elicited much cheering and applause and Haenow left the stage for good with his spectators being treated to a great show from a great guy.

It was clear to see why the 31-year-old was so popular on the X Factor. He is infectious both as a performer and as a man. He was also humble, frequently referencing members of his family and now amazed he was to have people coming to see his show.

It is unclear how long Haenow’s music career with continue for, he has already been dropped by his record label Syco and his voice, whilst undeniably strong, will not set the world on fire. He does however now have a supporter in me, Haenow is living proof that sometimes nice guys do win, he put on a thoroughly enjoyable show and I wish him every success in the future and hope to see him again.

By Jordan Davies
@JordanDavies09

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Thoroughly enjoyable!
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