For the first time in the talent show’s history, the X Factor came to Liverpool to see what the city had to offer, with the judges hoping to find the new Rebecca Ferguson.
Anfield's Rebecca finished as runner-up last year, and the judges had high hopes as they arrived in the city for the 2011 series. American star Kelly Rowland said: "Liverpool guys have a lot to live up to. Icons, legends, geniuses... the bar is set so high."
Take That star and new X Factor judge Gary Barlow revealed: "I am so glad we are going to Liverpool. My mum is actually a full Scouser, so she’s delighted. The North West is a great place for talent. If Liverpool doesn’t have the X Factor, I’ll eat this suit."
One young man from the city who did not leave
the judges disappointed, and saved Gary from
eating his suit, was 22-year-old Craig Colton
from Kirkby. He stunned his proud parents in
the audience, and blew the judges away with a
stunning rendition of Adele’s 'Hiding My Heart'.
Gary, Tulisa, Kelly and Louis Walsh were all full
of praise for the biscuit factory worker, who
managed to keep his audition secret from his
parents, and even made his mum iron his uniform
to make it look more convincing as he pretended
to go to work.
Former Liverpool Community College drama
student Craig said: "Not only have I got to impress
the judges but I’ve got my mum and dad watching
me. That will be fun."
Craig’s performance brought the audience to their feet, and he sailed through to the 'Boot Camp' stage with four yes votes. Louis Walsh told him: "That was an amazing audition because what we are looking for is somebody with a recording voice and you’ve definitely got a recording voice."
Also auditioning in Liverpool was Gemma McDowall, who was supported by Royle Family actor Ricky Tomlinson. Red-headed Gemma, who performs at a venue which is part-owned by the actor, was likened to the likes of Cilla Black, Lulu and Dusty Springfield at her audition. Ricky watched on with joy as Gemma got four yes votes off the judges.
Kelly Rowland told the 18-year-old: ‘You have a beautiful big voice. I did not know that all of that was going to come out of such a little body.’
However, not everyone who performed in Liverpool managed to impress in quite the same way.
Before his audition, confident Liverpudlian Mark Byron told former Destiny’s Child member Kelly Rowland: "I know I’m a Scouser and if you can’t understand my accent, I’ll talk like a bit slower. I’ve been trying to calm it down a little bit." She replied: "No, don’t calm it down. I’m in your territory, baby."
The crowd at the Echo Arena loved it all, and the stage was set. But, despite promising to show the judges what they have been missing out on, Mark failed to get the nod after his tuneless take on Rihanna’s 'Only Girl in the World'.
Husband and wife pair, The Duos, who compared themselves to Beyoncé and Jay Z, also left the wrong impression on the judges with their quite hopeless version of Beyoncé’s 'If I Were a Boy'.
A shocked Rowland told the pair after their audition: "Oh gosh. You really think that was Jay Z and Beyoncé? That didn’t go well at all."
The X Factor continues on ITV1, with more performances from Liverpool scheduled in the coming weeks.
By Helen Dodd, Website Editor
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The new X Factor judges were impressed with Liverpool's singers, including Craig Colton from Kirkby