The kids go wild as small screen stars light up the O2's big stage
I should have brought ear plugs. Or, at the very least, requested the farthest seat away from the stage.
But that's what you get with The X Factor Live Tour -- a big, shiny, and generally bombastic presentation of glossy musical hopefuls; each and every one of them vying for the attention of thousands of screaming teenagers. Hence, nobody leaves the arena without some kind of hearing problem.
Last year, it was all about Jedward. This time around, every female in the O2 seems to have fallen under the spell of Liam, Zayn, Harry, Louis, and Mullingar youngster Niall, aka One Direction. Awful name for a boyband, mind, but they certainly have the confidence (not to mention five heads of meticulously styled locks) to go the distance.
There's no original material on offer, but what else would you expect?
Sure, there are moments when it begins to feel like The Cher Lloyd Show, and the tiny, flame-haired diva definitely laps up her lengthy time on stage, but I don't see any disappointed faces. I see children's eyes light up when young Paije Richardson takes on a Monkees number and dances around in a purple suit. And I see parents eyes widen with horror as a scary looking Brazilian dude called Wagner declares the "love shack" open for business.
Certainly, the cheers grow louder when our very own Mary Byrne arrives on stage. Flanked by a reliable backing band, Mary stands out from the others. She's a better singer than most, and delivers a flawless rendition of It's a Man's Man's Man's World.
It's supposed to be Matt Cardle's night. He is, after all, the winner. But this is quite a long show (two-and-a-half hours, including an interval) and by the time the former painter and decorator makes an appearance it seems the audience are a little worn out. But where's there's a group, there's almost always a group number, and everyone returns for a good old sing-along (David Bowie's Heroes) and all is right with the world again.
We probably could have done with a live host to fill in some of the blanks. And the merchandise on sale was a tad pricey (€50 for a One Direction hoodie!). But that's not what the kids will remember this morning. They'll remember a night when they got to see their favourite TV stars -- I mean, singers -- perform their favourite songs. The enthusiastic voiceover at the beginning promised us the night of our lives. And for each and every youngster who left the O2 with a wide grin on their face, it most likely was.