It’s a remarkable twenty years since Will Young beat Gareth Gates in a closely fought Pop Idol final. Will had by that point clashed on screen with Simon Callow so for him it must have felt like a double triumph and to open this anniversary tour Young plays that moment out on the PA against a red velvet curtain and solitary mic stand. We all get it and we all cheer. Then the curtain draws back and there his is, twenty years on in white tails ready to deliver a set of hits.

And the hits we want are all there, delivered as expected with his usual charm and his soaring voice. Youngs upper register has such purity and precision, it’s never shrill but flutters flute like above a small but first class band and two backing singers. He hops and dances around the stage with almost childlike glee but soon he takes off the tail coat and mops his brow. Energy has led to sweat but more of that later.

The set features the songs we want to hear and the ones that serious fans will know from his albums. He’s produced over the years som excellent cover versions too but he does this with an approach that few others get right. A Will Young cover is a respectful tribute to another’s hit, of course he brings to it his own style, his own feeling, but never at the expense of that original, and by that I probably mean tune. I hate so much the current trend for singers to cover a song by riffing around the tune to the extent that that tune is rendered invisible.

Throughout the show Young peppers the evening with charming asides, often self deprecating and often funny, then around the middle of the show he embarks on rather a long anecdote. I enjoyed it because it carried a powerful message about hate crime, something he has experienced. He delivers it in a way that is both funny but poignant. I loved it but maybe some of the audience felt it was rather too long.

Job done he heads back into the songs and again he proves that he is a talent of note. Suddenly though he seems to be having a problem and moments into a number he stops, his earphones have failed, sweat in them he declares and eventually he leaves the stage for a few minutes to get the problem sorted. When he returns he is for a while more relaxed but it becomes clear that the problem remains and finally he pulls them out and slams them to the stage. Undaunted but clearly unhappy he declares that he is a professional and he will carry on. And he does, closing his set with a very pleasing and simple arrangement of his hit Leave Right Now. Young is a very charming performer who despite the problem that night, remained so to the very end and the audience lapped it up, the man is surely a pop evergreen.

Andrew Kay

5 November

The Brighton Centre

Rating: ★★★★☆

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