Cheers for Will Young fill Birmingham’s Symphony Hall as a spotlight lights a lone microphone in front of the burgundy curtains hiding the stage. A clip of his Pop Idol audition plays after an a cappella snippet of ‘Evergreen‘ and as the curtains pull back, we’re greeted by Will Young and his band; this is a 20 Year celebration tour and the setlist is full of his greatest hits through and through. After ‘Evergreen‘ & ‘Love Revolution‘, Will takes the time to interact with the audience and call people out for being late; after all he is a self professed “nosey bitch”. He’s clearly use to working an audience and he can fill a room full of laughter as well as music. This certainly a distracting audience and you can see Will Young always looking in the direction of the action though this doesn’t effect his performance in the slightest.
He’s created quite the safe space in the Symphony Hall tonight and it’s proven by people dancing even if it’s on their own just because they can. ‘All Time Love‘ is one of the slower songs for the night and the sound of the choir that is the audience joining is really something to behold. He’s not disappointed when he calls on the crowd for audience participation. ‘Losing You‘ into ‘Who Am I‘ calls for an outfit change and the venues erupts into wolf whistles & cheers as tonight’s entertainer walks back on to stage wearing what can only be described as a school boy with a slightly dishevelled shirt (braces included). ‘You & I‘ is a fan favourite and it seems like Will is really feeling the emotion of the song. That is until it ends and he lets us know that his insoles were giving him grief and bunching up in his shoes during the song.
“So if I seemed emotional during you & I, I wasn’t, I was in pain” gets yet more laughter from this diverse group of gig goers.
As the night continue, we’re used as a test audience for reactions to different anecdotes after a story about his god-mother & mother trying to heal people didn’t go down as well as planned but using his charm, he soon gets everyone laughing again by bouncing off of reactions to his quip to the drummer. ‘Grace‘ is given a rockier ending than usual and that quickly gets everyone on their feet and the setlist picks up some traction. ‘Switch it off‘ was gets Will & his backing singers interacting a little bit more and it’s a lot of fun to see him move from band member to band member to make everyone feel included. A surprising favourite from the show is one of his more recent songs, ‘Joy‘ and a sneaky cover of ‘Love To Love You Baby‘ doesn’t go a miss with this crowd.
It’s quite refreshing to see an artist take the time to talk to a crowd and ask if they have any questions. An audience member takes the time to call back on a previous comment made about the party going on next door and let us know that she was there. It’s here that I realise that Will Young is one of the very few people who can tell an audience member that they look, and I quote, “shitfaced” and have it go down an absolute storm. We’re also given the beginning of how he lost his heterosexual virginity before being left on an absolute cliffhanger when he leaves the story unfinished.
The night draws to a close with ‘Leave Right Now‘ and one of the loudest applauses of the night is for when he requests that everyone puts their phones down and just lives in the moment. As he and his band give a final bow, the whooping and cheering from the crowd never seems to end. If one thing is clear after tonight, Will Young has still got it (even after 20 years).