The Britain’s Got Talent tour rolled into Cardiff last week, with ITV boldly promising an “incredible mix of raw talent” and, kids, I just happen to be the lucky reviewer. Now personally, spending an entire evening watching reality TV wannabes desperately vying for adoration is like a post-apocalyptic nightmare world, whereby Simon Cowell and friends have enslaved the entire human race to an eternity of watching various non-entities battle for our tears and applause. Clearly it was going to be an interesting evening.
The BGT tour consists of the winning act from the show and the 9 finalists desperately clinging to their 15 minutes before they fade back into obscurity as builders, waiters, social recluses, and fish wives.
We are also promised a few ‘surprises’ in the show, including last year’s winner and screaming-teenage-girls favourite, dancer George Sampson, who appears to have had an identity crisis and now dresses like he belongs to a street gang in Croydon.
The show begins with some cringe-worthy visuals on the big screen of performers and judges alike, to remind of us all of the BGT ‘talent’, after all it has been at least six weeks since the final, surely longer than their future shelf life.
We are treated firstly to a video montage of contestants crying, snotting, gyrating, warbling and nodding profusely at Cowell’s various put downs. Then cut to shots of Amanda ‘Botox’ Holden's permanently surprised face drenched in tears and mascara goop and smug megalomaniac Piers Morgan brandishing his utterly unqualified opinion.
The show kicks off with a routine by winners Diversity, an urban dance troupe who dramatically beat bookies' favourite, Susan Boyle, in the final. In all fairness, the boys can dance and their choreography is clearly creative and full of energy. As they perform routines to a variety of hip hop and dance songs they are an instant crowd pleaser and everyone is on their feet.
Shortly after this initial performance the fun police are deployed and security start skulking the aisles telling star struck teenagers to stop snapping and kids to put down their light-up, flashing concert paraphernalia, as it’s distracting from “the talent”. Surely no more distracting than bloody gurning stage hands wandering around in the stage wings in full view of the audience, thanks to some piss poor stage design, precariously swinging around mic stands? Security, astonishingly enough, does not have an answer to this.
We are also treated to performances from the likes of Hollie Steel, the 11 year old girl best know for having a tantrum on live television and delaying the Ten O’Clock News. She gave an extremely polished performance of “I Could Have Danced All Night”, this time minus the fit of hysteria, which would have added some extra entertainment value.
The delectable 17 year old Shaun Smith strutted on stage singing “Ain’t No Sunshine” to which the ladies go wild, most worryingly the over 45’s who appeared to be in the grip of a hot flush. Smith is pleasant enough but I am not sure he could be considered a fantastically talented singer, still I’m sure there’s a place for him on the Karaoke Circuit once the cruel public forgets him next week.
The hairy angel Susan Boyle made a post-rehab appearance looking decidedly more groomed and at last with tamed eyebrows. Boyle sings her original audition song that earned her millions of YouTube hits, “I Dreamed a Dream” from the musical Les Mis?rables. She also gives a stunning rendition of “Memory” and she is better than ever, the audience is once again on their feet and the utter adoration for the woman is almost intoxicating.
Weird grandfather and granddaughter singing duo "2 Grand" do their version of “A Whole New World” which I’m sure would be simply adorable performed in a village fete, but seriously: the loveable old geriatric looks like he needs a nice sit down and a brew and cannot honestly hold a tune. It’s clearly some bizarre, wholesome family fodder dreamt up by ITV and the whole thing looks a tad contrived for my liking.
We also get a performance by sexy Saxophone player Julian Smith. Sensing the audience’s slight bewilderment we’re reminded “he came third”, to which a girl behind me exclaimed “oh yeah, butt, he’s the fit one with the trumpet.”
The other acts come and go in succession, including the other dance troupe Flawless who shake it to some Michael Jackson favourites which elicits the appropriate audience response: people simultaneously cheering and agreeing what a “good pop star” he was and sidelining all the “unfortunate” kid stuff.
To be fair the acts perform well, the kids are happy, Cowell banks another million, but I am left with the feeling that it just doesn’t work as a concert. Part of the pleasure of BGT comes from the judge’s dramatic, emotional, unjustified and sometimes clueless response to the acts and there is a sense of excitement and involvement from the voting process. Once those elements are gone it is simply a rehash of what we have already seen, several times by this point. Once you go through the TV auditions, the semi finals and the live finals you feel like you’ve been listening to the singing bag lady your entire life. Furthermore the endless standing ovations are frankly exhausting.
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