Joe’s coming home at last

Joe McElderry at South Shields South Marine Park.

Joe McElderry at South Shields South Marine Park.

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SOUTH Shields golden boy Joe McElderry is returning to where it all began to play his first big gig on home turf.

 KATY WHEELER caught up with the X-Factor winner.

IT’S easy to see why Joe McElderry won over the X-Factor millions in 2009.

He’s a cheery chap to say the least, and his passion for music – and his home town – is palpable. And for the first time he’ll be able to enjoy the two together when he takes to the stage for the South Tyneside Summer Festival.

Winning the top TV talent show has seen Joe perform in some of the country’s biggest music venues, but a home town gig had eluded him – until now.

He explains: “It’s going to be amazing, it’ll be the first time I’ve performed in South Shields. Since the X Factor I tried to get back there and perform, but the schedule never allowed for it, there was never enough time.

“So when this offer came in, I said ‘block out my schedule, I’m definitely doing it.’”

Joe’s schedule is a busy affair thanks to his performances on ITV’s Popstar To Operastar, which are once again seeing him winning over the viewing public, and the classical pros who make up the judging panel.

But despite training hard as he tackles to become a tenor, he was determined to find the time to come home. “It’s at Bents Park too, which is great,” he said. “I used to go down there every summer and I remember seeing people like Spandau Ballet and Lulu.

“The festival is a great way of attracting people to the town, but also for the people of South Shields who perhaps haven’t had a chance to get away for a holiday. It’s a real celebration of music and performing arts. The North East is my favourite place to play. The crowds are loud for everybody, but it’s extra special being from there.

“It’s going to be a big, big show and I’m already rehearsing for it. I’m going to be putting some extra stuff in there as well as tracks from my album and from the X-Factor, maybe even some opera!”

Opera’s a new avenue for Joe, but it’s proving a refreshing change.

“I’m really enjoying trying out a new style. They are beautiful songs to sing. I never ever expected to sing opera. It’s not a negative thing, I just never associated myself with it, but it’s something I would definitely listen to now.

“The show is amazing for that (introducing people to opera). Some of my family were down at the weekend and my eight-year-old cousin was humming an opera song. That’s the power of the show, it makes it so people aren’t scared of opera anymore. It’s so inspiring to think that a show can do that.

“It’s very hectic, but I love it. I love learning a new discipline and singing with a live orchestra. It’s so refreshing to be involved with a different style of music.”

As a finalist in the show – alongside Cheryl Baker – more doors of opportunity will inevitably open for Joe who was dropped by Simon Cowell’s record label in April.

But he’s remaining tight lipped about what lies ahead. “I’m very busy over the next couple of months. I had a really exciting meeting this morning which I’ll be able to talk about in the next week or so.”

l Joe will perform at Bents Park, South Shields, as part of a series of live open air concerts for the South Tyneside Summer Festival on July 24.

Events are free of charge. More details can be found at www.southtyneside.info/summerfestival, by calling 454 6612 or logging onto www.facebook.com/southtynesideevents

l The Popstar to Operastar final is on ITV1 on Sunday at 8pm.