JOE McElderry kicked off his biggest tour yet with two sold-out shows at the weekend, including a triumphant return to his hometown.
The 22-year-old singing sensation, from Westoe, South Shields, opened his Set Your Soul Alive Tour at Billingham’s Forum Theatre, on Saturday night.
Joe, who recently won his third reality competition title on The Jump, also performed at the Customs House, in Mill Dam, South Shields, last night, where staff displayed a ‘Welcome Home’ poster for the star.
He said: “It was absolutely incredible. The audiences were brilliant and I couldn’t have thought of a better way to kick off the shows.
“This is my second solo tour, but this is the longest tour I’ve ever done, compared to the X Factor tour and everything.”
Joe, who also has victories on The X Factor and Popstar to Operastar under his belt, added: “On the first night we were all still a bit like a rabbit in the headlights, but give it two or three days and it’ll be smooth and everyone will be in the routine.
“It’s fun and I’m excited, and I couldn’t have had a better audience for the first two nights.”
Joe, who used to work at the Customs House as a dish washer, said it was an honour to return to play four sold-out shows at the theatre.
He said: “It’s great that I can come back up to the North East and have that much support, and I love playing the home crowd.
“I love playing to all crowds, but it’s always very special to play the home crowd.
“So the fact we can do that for a few nights instead of just one is brilliant.
“I used to work at the Customs House, so it feels amazing to be going back there for four sold-out shows.
“South Shields has never been a part of my tour before, and it feels right to have these shows this time around.”
Joe debuted some new self-penned songs at the show, which could be featured on his fifth studio album.
He said: “As well as putting together the show, the thing that’s really nerve-wracking is that there’s brand new material in there, so some of the material they’ve never, ever heard before.
“When you’re playing that to an audience you get that kind of nervousness of the unknown, but we’ve had a good reaction.
“There are also some of the favourites in there as well, so there’s something for everyone.
“With this tour I wanted to give people the opportunity to judge the songs before they went on an album.
“It’s going to be a real tester to see what people enjoy and they don’t enjoy.
“When you write a song, it’s a bit like having a baby – you get a bit protective of them, so I’m hoping the people who come to my shows will like them.
“I’ve got three and a half months of touring, so I’m going to get that done and dusted, and then I’m going to decide what I’m doing next.
“My motto this year is not to plan.”