Lancaster singer Paul Akister earned rave reviews from judges and fans on Saturday night’s first X Factor ‘live show’.
Paul brought the house down opening the hit ITV1 talent show with his version of ‘Ghost’ by Ella Henderson.
The 25-year-old showed few signs of nerves and looked very much at home on the TV studios stage.
And the Lancaster man, watched by family and friends in the studio audience, received huge cheers, applause and even screams of delight after his performance.
He also was one of a handful of acts to receive universal praise from the celebrity panel of judges.
Simon Cowell said Paul’s vocals were “terrific” while his mentor Melanie ‘Mel B’ Brown said “you are a god to me.”
Cheryl Fernandez-Versini (formerly Cheryl Cole) also congratulated Paul on doing such a great job despite the pressure of having to go first out of 16 acts.
As Paul stood on stage to receive feedback, flanked by the show’s host Dermot O’Leary, Cowell also gave some good-natured stick to fellow judge Louis Walsh, who axed Akister at the judges’ houses stage last year.
“All I can say is that I think Louis last year was a) mad, b) deaf and c) stupid,” said Simon.
“You have a fantastic voice. You are such a great singer.”
But Louis stuck to his guns, saying he got rid of Paul in 2013 because “he wasn’t ready” and said he was one of the Lancastrian’s biggest fans.
“You look amazing, you’re going to go far in the competition,” said Walsh.
Mel B said: “You have everything. That was a solid performance.”
Paul said to Dermot: “To think that two months ago I was singing in Lancaster in the pubs and now I’m singing on this stage, where I wanted to be last year.”
Millions of TV viewers are now voting for their favourite performer from last night’s programme.
The results will be announced tonight live on ITV1. Two acts will be eliminated, leaving 14 remaining in the competition.
Acts will be eliminated week on week until the grand final in December. The winner of The X Factor is all but guaranteed a record contract and the Christmas number one single.
To vote for Paul, you can download the The X Factor app and vote for free, or call 090 20505101 or 6 505101 from a mobile. Calls usually cost 35p.
And follow the fortunes of Paul Akister on twitter @guardiandigital or @the_visitor using the hashtag #teampaul.
*You can watch Paul’s performance of ‘Ghost’ HERE
GREG LAMBERT runs the rule over all 16 X Factor performances on last night’s show.
Paul Akister (Ghost) Fantastic performance from the Lancaster man. He can be proud of that. Will surely sail through to next week.
Lola Saunders (Stay with Me) Fishmonger conquered nerves and judges’ comments about her dress to deliver faultless vocal.
Overload Regeneration (I Kissed a Girl) Lucky to be back in the competition with a wild card and gave a wooden display.
Jay James (Changing) I’m no fan of Paloma Faith so didn’t enjoy the song choice of ex-navy man from Wales.
Stephanie Nala (Everything I Own) Pleasant enough from former lead singer of The Luminites but nothing special.
Jack Walton (Only Girl in the World) 17-year-old will have to do better than this lifeless effort.
Chloe Jasmine (Toxic) Billie Holiday does Britney Spears. Mesmerising. Best performance of the night, alongside Paul.
Stereo Kicks (Roar) Eight-piece boy band impressed me during early rounds but this was forgettable.
Stevi Ritchie (Livin’ La Vida Loca) Cheesy dad dancer was exhausted halfway through. Hilariously bad.
Ben Haenow (Bridge over Troubled Water) Effortless from the London van driver. Love his voice.
Lauren Platt (Happy) Cool teenager put a unique spin on Pharrell Williams chart-topper. She’s this year’s “dark horse”.
Blonde Electra (Kids in America) Love or hate the annoying peroxide twins, you will remember them. Bonkers but eye catching performance.
Jake Quickenden (She’s the One) Tattooed heart-throb began his performance lying down. Coincidentally, it sent me to sleep.
Fleur East (I’m All About That Bass) Smart song choice to pick the current number one, and accomplished performance too.
Only the Young (Jailhouse Rock/Twist and Shout) Two boys, two girls combo have great retro energy but missed the mark with this mash-up.
Andrea Faustini (Earth Song) Italian brought the house down with Michael Jackson cover and earned the best comments from the judges. He and Paul have far and away the best voices in the competition.