Hundreds of music lovers were in for a rare treat at North Pier this weekend - as top TV talent show stars came to town.
Over two nights at the blustery venue, more than 1,300 fans enjoyed a performance from this year’s Britain’s Got Talent winners Collabro and runner-up Lucy Kay on Saturday as well as 2011 X Factor winner Matt Cardle and a host of pop stars in the making on Friday.
Saturday night’s capacity crowd, at the 1,000-seater auditorium, did seem to cause a problem for staff and organisers at North Pier Live as people were left queuing for almost an hour to get into the venue.
It is understood that confusion was caused by the change of venue – the shows had orginally been due to take place at Lytham Hall.
While Friday night’s much smaller audience didn’t seem to pose any problems, Saturday’s issues were exacerbated by the full house.
Once Saturday’s show was under way, around 35 minutes after the scheduled start time, the first half was somewhat marred by sound problems.
Backing tracks were drowning out much of the acts’ vocal endeavours and teenage songstress Amy-Jo Clough even had a backing track stop mid-track. She coped admirably and after a few nervous giggles, and a brief chat with the audience - which was 100 per cent on her side, she carried on acapella to receive rapturous applause.
Voce, dubbed Barrow’s answer to Il Divo, gave a taster of the main act, although slightly older than the BGT headliners, with arrangements of Love Changes Everything and Mama impressing.
Ex-Five Star lead singer Denise Pearson gave a stunning soul showcase - although much of the detail of her songs was lost under the booming backings, before another BGT alumnus Jai McDowall mixed musical theatre and rock with some of his own new material.
His final song, to take the audience back to where his journey began, was Anthem from Chess and left us wanting more and earned the Scot a standing ovation from much of the crowd.
Another sign of North Pier Theatre’s lack of practice with capacity crowds was the queue for the ladies’ loo - which stretched the width of the venue and left a lot of people grumbling through the interval.
But those gripes were soon left behind when Lucy Kay took to the stage. The diminutive diva-in-the making won over the audience almost instantly with Nella Fantasia, one of the tracks which took her to the second place in BGT earlier this year, as well as her endearing repartee and modesty.
“I know most of you aren’t here for me, and you’re waiting for Collabro, so I’ll get on...” she told us. But she had nothing to fear, as by the closing notes of Habanera from Bizet’s Carmen she had seduced the 900-plus audience and won a host of new fans.
From the opening bars of John Legend’s All Of Me, arranged into their trademark five-part harmonies, Collabro’s performance was spine-tingling. Come What May, from movie musical Moulin Rouge gave me goosebumps - well, I think it was the music and not just the temperature in the venue.
The renditions of Stars and Bring Him Home, from Les Miserables, almost brought the house down - as fans recognised the winning form which gave them the BGT crown. Their diction, timing and vocal blending were immaculate, and the Collab-orative spirit of the band members shone through.
In keeping with the cool of the auditorium, the guys challenged us to the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge before closing with a fantastic version of Let It Go from Disney’s recent blockbuster Frozen... And it seemed pretty apt to have the closing lyrics of “The cold never bothered me anyway” ringing in our ears as we were blown back inland along the windy pier.
l While Friday night’s show drew a much smaller audience, the performances were no less impressive.
Talents of the future were learning the ropes and working the crowd, many of whom were screaming, adoring teenage girls.
Bailey McConnell and James Smith, semi-finalist and finalist respectively in this year’s Britain’s Got Talent, showed maturity beyond their years with their accomplished sets - James’ voice especially giving him an appeal beyond the girl fans.
Clashing somewhat against a largely acoustic, singer-songwriter line-up was dance nutters Sam And The Womp, famous for one hit Bom Bom from 2012. It was no surprise that plenty of people made a dash for the loo/popcorn/bar when their ravey set began. Someone who must be on the brink of a breakthrough, given the reception from Friday’s audience is Manchester’s Harry Mondryk who was working it like a teen sensation pro. Could he be the UK’s answer to Justin Bieber?
Possibly, let’s just hope he stays on the wholesome side of the image!