Union J at The O2, Dublin – Review and Photos
Union J at the O2, Dublin – January 14th, 2013
As the O2 fills up, it is impossible to ignore the fact that the venue is being packed with mainly young girls, something which could turn someone of the group who will be taking to the stage later, perhaps unfairly. With this comes everything you would expect: deafening screams, ridiculous excitement, and a sufficient amount of cheesiness from the performance.
Ollie Marland opens, he goes down relatively well with the crowd with his somewhat unoriginal songs. However vocally and performance-wise, as a young artist, he opens the show nicely.
Next up is Room 94, this is the band’s third time in Dublin and it’s heart-warming to see how much they have grown in their performance, their confidence and in their crowd. Their antics and banter on stage is charming. From the moments that they talk to the crowd, to the moment where they are unable to stop laughing as bass-player Kit Tanton falls over vocalist Kieran Lemon. Seeing the four of them (completed by Sean and Dean Lemon) having fun on stage makes the performance very enjoyable. They play well but it is a bit sad to see that they seem to have to change themselves for the audience. They even censor their song “Chasing The Summer”, which although is responsible, seeing as the crowd is made up of mainly young teenagers and pre-teens, is still a pity because they are a band that are capable of much more. They have the potential to be a relatively respectable pop-rock/pop-punk band, and hopefully the crowd that they deserve will eventually notice them and their name will not be tainted by the young crowd they are reeling in at the moment.
Next on the stage is probably the strangest experience of the night. Five piece girl group ‘Five Angels’, who range in age from thirteen to fifteen years old. They sing a few poppy, catchy songs (at times the amount of live singing is questionable). With their seriously choreographed set, them all looking a bit nervous and uncomfortable, it is a bit awkward to watch and comes across gimmicky.
Finally, Union J arrive, at which stage the arena erupts. One can have their presuppositions about a band like this, who have made their name through the X Factor. However, one thing that can be said for the group is that at least they do not shy away from the fact that that is how they are here. Credits to them for that, between talking about it on stage, to showing clips of their journey on the big screen (with typical emotional X Factor style). Their singles such as “Carry You” get a huge response from the crowd early on, and right to the moment the band close their set with “Loving You Is Easy”, the excitement levels never drop.
Even if one is skeptical of the group, all of them show that they have real vocal talent. In particular Jaymi Henseley has very impressive vocals, his solo rendition of Beyonce’s “Listen” showcases this perfectly. Each of the group do a solo, including JJ Hamblet (“Counting Stars” by One Republic), George Shelley (a mash up between “Roar” by Katy Perry and “Wild Ones” by Flo Rida) and Josh Cuthbert ( “Beneath Your Beautiful” by Labrinth ).
On top of these covers, they also have a cover of Demi Lovato’s “Skyscraper” and a Taylor Swift medley in the set. At times, these covers seem slightly unnecessary, and maybe they should try to show themselves as something other than a cover band, but as a young group who do not have too many songs of their own under their belt, at least they give the crowd their money’s worth.
It has to be said that their show is endearing, they show videos of each of them as children and get a group of seven people from the crowd up on stage. The band seem to be really genuinely nice to these fans, as well as those in the crowd. As they often stop in between their songs to say how grateful they are. Which, although is appreciated, verges on the side of overly cheesy at times. The performance does get a bit ‘textbook boy band’, with their choreography and inspirational speeches, the best parts of the show are where they break away from the choreography a bit and just have some fun with each other.
Their music is not revolutionary or original, but their vocals are generally very good with very few moments where they’re off. They are showing that they have the ability to keep up with most other boy bands around at the moment. Their music is generic, inoffensive, catchy, pop, but it is what it is; and they prove that they are good at what they do.
Review by Orla Conway
Photos by David Doyle