Winning a TV reality show such as ‘The X Factor’ can often be seen as somewhat of a poisoned chalice. Time after time hopefuls have entered the competition, won the coveted recording deal and then seemingly vanished from the industry. In 2010, Matt Cardle pipped Rebecca Ferguson to claim victory in the seventh series of the talent show.

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Having played the leading roles in Phantom of the Opera, Les Miserable and Love Never Dies to name just 3 shows, it was hardly a surprise that tonight’s concert in the intimate Quays Theatre at the Lowry was a hit. Ramin Karimloo can literally sing everything such is his amazing vocal range. Famous musical hits are intertwined with his own writing much to the joy of the near capacity audience.

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A slightly reduced-sized Halle Orchestra, all dressed in costumes reminiscent of Queen's heydays of the 1980s, or even dressed as the great man Freddie Mercury himself, took to the stage this evening to become the backing for a five-piece band and 4 singers who regularly work together on this show as it tours the world over, inviting local orchestras to play with them along the way. Tonight it was the turn of The Halle Orchestra, who, of course rose to this challenge superbly without even so much as a ruffled feather; and one plucky string player found his five seconds of fame as he walked onto the stage in Freddie Mercury drag and a hoover! It's the Festive Season, and it's the kind of concert which lends itself towards fancy costumes, and since the entire orchestra entered so wholeheartedly in to that spirit, it worked very well indeed.

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From the first piano chord - the only accompaniment for the first 25 or so seconds, before being joined by a sole cello and then drum kit (a plume of smoke in the music video, matching the opening words “a scent or smell that lingers”) - the stunningly talented beauty that is Leigh(near Wigan)-based Zoe Unsworth, brings a sincere and relatable lead in to her latest track entitled “Lies”, as she articulates the cleanness of her voice and the journey of a lover belong with her breakup.

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This is The Halle Orchestra's Christmas tradition for the youngsters. For some years now they have played the music of the famous children's animated film, The Snowman, live with the film being shown on a screen above the orchestra simultaneously. It has been many years since I saw this Christmas cartoon, so long in fact, I was barely out of nappies; however, I had the opportunity today to go along to the Bridgewater Hall and reacquaint myself with it.

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It's that time of year again, when the youngest of us are all agog and excited, whilst the oldies try our best to let our hair down and enter into the spirit - and what better way can there be than having the whole family, young and old alike, come along to The Bridgewater Hall to hear the superb joined forces of four of the six Halle groups bring you some Christmas cheer! You don't need to be Christian to come along - there is plenty in there for all to enjoy - but it certainly helps. There is a natural bias quite obviously, since Christmas celebrates the birth of Jesus Christ; and the songs we are invited to sing along to are hymns and very religious. But even devote atheists like myself still enjoy the atmosphere, and especially the superb singing from the Halle Choirs.

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The Halle Orchestra continued their sensational seasonal concerts this evening with a lady who has collaborated with this orchestra several times already, even producing an album with them earlier this year. A northern lass, who reminding me very much of the late, great, Victoria Wood (only with a superior singing voice), and whose jazzy, bluesy voice filled the Bridgewater Hall entertaining a near capacity audience this evening. I write of course of Clare Teal.

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A Rich Musical Celebration of Culture and Heritage

 

With little known of its history, Klezmer is an Eastern European musical tradition largely consisting of dance tunes and instrumental pieces used for weddings and other celebrations and it was an absolute pleasure to convene in the beautiful surround of a former Spanish and Portuguese Synagogue for this end of year Klezmer celebration, now in its fifth year as Max Dunbar, CEO of the Manchester Jewish Museum, noted in his introduction along with the advice that any of the full house audience were welcome to get up and dance at any time during the evening.

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Many soap stars in history have become pop stars, some have asteroric rises to pop star fame such as Kylie Minogue and some become less successful cross over artists like Curly Watts out of Corrie, so this evening I'm at the Lowry theatre to see the latest soap star turned musical star; Catherine Tyldesley, the popular actress well known as playing Eva Price on the cobbles over at Coronation Street.

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Cara Dillon has been around on the professional Celtic and folk music scene since the early 1990s, initially with her own band Oige and then joining the folk group Equation in 1995, leaving that to form Polar Star with Sam Lakeman and then becoming a solo artist in 2001.   With a background in traditional Irish music, she started performing while still at school and won the All Ireland Singing Trophy at Fleadh Cheoil na hEireann at the age of 14. Traditional Irish music still forms a significant part of her repertoire.

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“SHA-BOOM”   

 

Where do I start? This was the most amazing night of music. These boys have it all and can do it all.... The production took place at The Bridgewater Hall in Manchester and was their third night on this tour and it did not disappoint.

 

Music, dance, mic-ography was impressive....

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