We sat down with Teesside native James Arthur today ahead of his latest album’s release and tour performance at the Riverside in June.

Arthur will be releasing his fifth album ‘ Bitter Sweet Love,’ which has been two years in the making, on January 26 and the singer says it has been “a long time coming.”

The Redcar born singer added he began writing for the project in January 2022 and said he is “past ready” to release the album – saying he cannot wait to share it.

Additionally, he said he was looking forward to returning to his old stomping grounds and performing at the Riverside Stadium – a ground he frequented when he was young to support his local team, Middlesbrough.

He added the upcoming performance feels like a “full circle moment.”

He said: “I’ve been describing it as an album that’s in two parts. There’s the very raw singer-songwriter thing, an acoustic-led track or piano-led track, things like ‘Sleepwalking’ epitomise me as an acoustic artist, and ‘Freefalling,’ the piano balladeer within me.

“Whereas the other half, contains my punk influences, my rock-and-roll influences, there’s everything in there from Stereophonics, The Beatles, The Pixies, Nirvana, a lot of the things I love within all of that.

“It’s sort of, half of it, if James Arthur was a band, and the other half is the stripped-back version of me that the hardcore fans know of me from inception.

“I’ve had a lot of memories at [the Riverside] over the years, particularly as a young lad, going to the games. My life, at one point, was all about going to games on a Saturday, the Riverside was a safe space, it was a happy place for me.

“I never thought when I was walking through those turnstiles, a small cog in a very big wheel, that I would ever be the headline act at a place like that. It’s truly humbling, it’s a pinch me sort of thing, I can’t describe how that feels. I’m very proud of that.”

He said he has received positive feedback from fans on social media and believes their excitement is at an all-time high as he returns to his “acoustic singer-songwriter” roots.

He added he believes it will be a “very special” night as he is supported by “national treasures” and friends of his, McFly, and Lauren Hibberd, who he said he was a “big fan” of.

Arthur also announced he will be holding a “battle of the bands” to select the opening act for the Riverside performance.

He added he was keen to give back to the area having participated in many battles himself making his way in the industry, and also said the prospective venue could be Teesside University.

“Hopefully, we can find the next North East superstar.”

Arthur added he was looking forward to performing ‘New Generation’ and ‘Bitter Sweet Love’ to fans, while he believes performing ‘Sleepwalking’ and ‘Comeback Kid’ will be special to share with those attending his show.

Speaking on his journey from performing in the North East, to winning X Factor, to going on tours, Arthur said he has toiled to cement his place in the industry.

He said: “The journey since winning the X Factor… it’s been colourful. It’s been up and down.

“I’ve had a tumultuous first few years in the music business. I think for anyone going through the kind of gauntlet of reality TV, particularly The X Factor, historically, people have not gone on to have longevity or the sort of career that I’ve been fortunate enough to have.

“There’s only been a few of us that have managed to stay at a level, doing big shows and being on the radio.

“It feels like it’s been very hard work to be taken seriously and to be given my flowers as someone who’s managed to stick in there and not be deterred by the naysayers, and people that might have written me off because of how I came up.

“For some reason, they see that as a shortcut when actually the music business is littered with people who are there due to nepotism.

“People who go through something like the X Factor typically are on it because they don’t have any other support. It’s not a shortcut into the music business, it’s a really hard way into the music business.

“Even if you win it, you don’t get taken that seriously. I feel very proud that I’ve managed to stay here. It’s been a long 11 years of fighting to stay at a certain level and that continues. I still feel I’ve got a long way to go and I feel quite happy with where I am.

“It’s been a rollercoaster, I’ve tried to avoid saying that word, but yeah, that’s the best way to describe it."

He said he hopes people will see he is taking his music very seriously having put out five albums in ten years – adding he has never relented and “lives and breathes” his work.

Arthur added he believes he has grown a lot as an artist, through work he has described as “good” and others he has referred to in a less positive light.

“I can’t really put into words how grateful I am to my fanbase for getting me here, for continuing to support me over the years,” he added.

“I can’t really thank them enough.”

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Tickets for the Middlesbrough show can be found here.

The remaining tickets on sale can be found here.

UK Tour 2024

Mar 05 - Bournemouth, UK @ International Centre SOLD OUT

Mar 06 - Birmingham, UK @ Birmingham Utilita Arena SOLD OUT

Mar 08 - Sheffield, UK @ Sheffield Utilita Arena SOLD OUT

Mar 09 - Newcastle, UK @ Newcastle Utilita Arena SOLD OUT

Mar 10 - Hull, UK @ Connexin Live SOLD OUT

Mar 13 - Glasgow, UK @ OVO Hydro SOLD OUT

Mar 15 - Manchester, UK @ Manchester AO Arena SOLD OUT

Mar 16 – London, UK @ Wembley OVO Arena SOLD OUT

Mar 19 – Nottingham, UK @ Motorpoint Arena

Mar 20 – Cardiff, UK @ Utilita Arena

Mar 22 – London, UK @ The O2

Jun 8 - Middlesbrough, UK @ Riverside Stadium