Michael Jackson he is not, yet the Antipodean hunk remains a 'perfectly adequate entertainer'
His over-pumped pecs and vapid expression are familiar to anyone who reads the tabloids or gossip mags, but does anyone actually like Peter Andre’s music? The several thousand punters who have packed into the Odyssey Arena on this freezing evening three weeks before Christmas certainly seem to.
The assembled faithful have shelled out to see the Anglo-Greek-Australian vocalist plug Accelerate – incredibly, his eighth album. A quick scan around the venue discloses a 99-1 split of women and men – or rather, women and the odd disgruntled boyfriend.
But before anyone can wrap their eyes or ears around the be-chested one, there is perhaps the most overblown intro in pop history to contend with. After a portentous countdown on the video screens, a large, white curtain drops to reveal not Andre, but another video screen playing a photo montage of him.
Booming synth stabs, a squad of percussionists and much pyro later, the main man finally makes his appearance to deafening screams from 'Team Andre' (as his followers have been branded on £25 t-shirts available in the foyer).
There are all the usual trappings of an arena extravaganza – dancers, walkways, a dazzling light show, an acoustic interlude with a stool… The first of Andre’s numerous costumes is a Michael Jackson-esque, military-style number, complete with aviator shades.
Indeed, the singer seems to actually want to be Michael Jackson (well, the alive version – although I’m sure the alternative would suit many people fine). He covers several of the late King of Pop’s tracks, and at one point even comes out dressed as Jackson. Still, the MJ medley isn’t actually that bad, and I suppose there are worse people Andre could idolise.
Elsewhere, the 37-year-old works his way through a surprisingly extensive back catalogue. Amazingly, the UK-born, Oz-raised star has enjoyed 17 British hit singles, including three number ones, over a near-20-year career. How did this happen? For most of us, Peter Andre begins and ends with ‘Mysterious Girl’.
Of course, the ubiquitous hit from 1995, 1996 and 2004 gets an airing, as does ’96 chart-topper ‘Flava’ (but top-three single ‘Insania’ does not, to the shrieking chagrin of some ladies near me). Andre also sings the highly apt (considering his recent hospitalisation) ‘Call the Doctor’. Later, he gets an ecstatic fan up from the audience to dance with him during ballad ‘I Feel You’.
There’s a lot going on in a set pushing two hours long, and, to be fair, it’s no more naff than your average Boyzone or Westlife gig. Between songs, Andre comes across as a decent enough chap – the mass public sympathy following his split from Katie Price, aka Jordan, appears well deserved – and the crowd laps up his family-friendly schtick.
In purely vocal terms, though, the best thing about this concert is surely the support act, the Overtones – a 1950s-influenced doo-wop band. There are also two other openers, which proves that Andre is at least keen to deliver value for money.
On one level, this Antipodean hunk is cheese personified, a weedy-voiced sap with all the genuine musical talent of one of his ex-wife’s boob implants. On another, he’s a perfectly adequate entertainer, keen to give the people who come to see him what they want – and it’s hard to argue with that.