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20 Jul, Saturday
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Review: Olly Murs – The SSE Arena, Belfast

“Good evening, it’s my birthday and I’m so glad to be back,” an overexcited Olly Murs bellowed to the Belfast audience crammed inside the SSE Arena. All walks of life, from older ladies to kids not even born when Olly burst onto the scene, crowded around the huge stage for the Essex-born singer’s All The Hits Tour.

The ‘Troublemaker’ pre-recorded himself outside a venue singing along to his singles, before realising his name wasn’t on the guestlist. Distracting them, he manages to burst through, and straight into the crowd. He descended down the stands, hugging and kissing fans during the start of new single ‘Moves.’ The X Factor alumni is no stranger to Belfast, after playing Titanic Sounds, Falls Park and even a few stints in the SSE Arena on several tours.

Of course, the cheeky chappy had his signature dance moves, flirting with a granny in the audience. He was joined by a big band and three backup singers, bursting into new songs ‘Kiss Me’ and ‘Feel The Same,’ the latter of which appears on his 2018, and most recent, album ‘You Know I Know.’ 

“I’m working on my birthday and I’m so happy to be in Belfast tonight,” Olly beamed to the screams of the crowd, before they sang happy birthday back to him. He informs that he had a great day in ‘the home of the throne,’ going to Winterfell and the place where the pilot of Game Of Thrones was recorded, self-proclaiming himself as a ‘geek,’ but the perfect place to be on tour when it’s your birthday and you’re a fan of the show.

Things took a serious turn after the jokes, when Olly stated that a few years ago he was in a dark place. ‘Talking To Yourself’ is a song off the new record, and Olly pleaded with members of the audience to talk to someone if they’re ever feeling low, addressing the importance of mental health in today’s society. The sea of phone lights from the crowd replaced the signature lighters for a slow song, and why not with lyrics like ‘I’m too good at bad advice, always blinded by the lights.’

A flashback through the years followed, showing Olly in concerts and music videos, before finally resting on his first audition in front of the X Factor judges a whopping 10 years ago, before a cover ‘Superstition,’ by Stevie Wonder, and the song he originally sang for his audition, kicked off. “Who voted for me?” he teased, “thank you, I lost.” ‘Thinking Of Me,’ his Nan’s favourite song which she begged for him to put back into the setlist followed, as well as two more covers, Grease’s ‘Summer Lovin’ and One Direction’s ‘What Makes You Beautiful,’ before the Jungle Book’s ‘I Wanna Be Like You.’

He addressed everyone once more, informing them that the next song is his biggest, with five billion streams, and barely any of his fans know it. ‘That Girl’ was a track played by a guy in China whose video went viral, spiralling the song out of control around the world. “I’m bigger than Drake in China,” Olly mock-boasted, strutting around the stage, shaking his rear of the year.

‘Dear Darlin’ was probably a personal highlight, when he told the story of how it reminds him of his dead gran, and helps others deal with loss and grief, before the massive singles finally made an appearance. ‘Up,’ ‘Troublemaker’ and ‘Wrapped Up’ preceded the encore, before he finally bowed out with ‘Dance With Me Tonight.’

Not just any music photographer from Northern Ireland; but one that also loves cake.