Darius -Manchester Apollo - 16.5.03

6.30pm: Staring at pint. Wondering exactly how I managed to leave Ex-Smiths drummer Mike Joyce and Ex-Oasis guitarist Bonehead in favour of 3rd Place Pop Idol contestant Darius Danesh. It doesn't even bear thinking about so the only cure really is a few swift jars in order to numb the pain.

7.45pm: Just as I thought things couldn't get any worse I witness support act Peppercorn - a girl who makes Kym Marsh look like the perfect dinner party guest. If you bump into her make sure you pass her a dictionary with the words "Tune" and "Personality" underlined. Make her repeat the definitions 7 times each at gun point till it sticks!!!

8.45pm: F**K Me!!! When did Darius stop being Ant & Decs gimp and turn himself into a bona fide hip swivelling god? In one of the biggest transformations since Kylie stopped being Charlene and became Sex Kylie, Darius has squeezed the cheese and summoned the spirits of Ricky Martin and Enrique.

8.50pm: "Manchester, I don't think you can handle it" is announced pantomime style before the unmistakable riff to Bootylicious blasts the roof off and Darius does his best to emulate Beyonce in one of the most bizarre cover versions since A-Teens hooked up with Alice Cooper for "Schools Out". Sadly he segues it into a cover of George Michael's "Faith" just to prove he's a serious artist.

9.20pm: A live bootleg mash-up of Timberlake's "Like I Love You" and Prince's "Kiss". Interesting, but entirely forgettable

9.30pm: With a big D in the sky the return of Darius Danesh Cult Leader comes to the fore and in one of those rambling cheesy monologues he encourages us to "Keep Trying and Stop Buying". Maybe a social commentary of consumer culture and how were all wrapped up with material possessions...or more likely Darius in full on Geri Halliwell School Of Philosophy mode.

9.45pm: "I've Got You Under My Skin". A Great show of diversity mate, but Darius you're no Frank Sinatra.

9.50pm: "Colourblind", the song Simon Cowell wouldn't let him sing at the Pop Idol audition before Darius released it as his debut single and headed straight to number 1. It's one of the few self-penned songs of Darius' tonight which are actually memorable and it's no surprise that the audience know each and every word.

9.55pm: Ending the show on another cover (Blink 182's "All The Small Things") it seems that Darius' wish to be freed of the karaoke idol lifestyle was just a big sham as it's cover versions which really hit the mark tonight. He came, he saw and and he entertained and that's all we can ask for. He's never going to become a national obsession like Gareth Gates and he'll never write the sort of credible song he strives for artistically, but he's a great all round entertainer.

Alex McCann

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