AFTER 17 years in the business, Beverley Knight has earned her title as the queen of British soul.
She has come a long way since her debut album in 1995, clocking up an MBE, an impressive seven studio albums, and the accolade of being the only artist to have headlined the Mouth of the Tyne Festival twice.
She first took to the stage at Tynemouth Priory in 2008, when torrential rain threatened to make the show a washout.
Before Friday night’s performance, she said: “I felt so sorry for the fans last time I was here. It was pouring with rain – I mean really pouring.
“I am delighted to have been asked back, and it’s lovely to be the only artist to have been invited here twice.
“I love the north east fans because they are always loud.
“Whenever you go on tour, when you come to the north east, you know it’s going to be a long night, in the best possible sense.
“You know that somewhere where it’s going to get messy.”
The soul singer last week released her seventh album, Soul UK, choosing to go down a different route with a personal album of covers.
“These songs come from a concept,” she said.
“Some of the artists are long forgotten, and some enabled me to have the kind of career that I have now.
“It is a kind of mix tape of my childhood and my youth.
“I thought if I make it as personal as possible, it would shorten the list of possible songs, but my favourite on the album is George Michael’s One More Try.”
The Should Woulda Coulda singer followed 2008 winner Alexandra Burke on stage on Friday, but she has been outspoken about the X Factor in the past.
“I speak out in defence of the people on this show because they get so famous so quickly, the problem is, how the hell can they sustain it?” she said.
“And when they can’t, like poor Joe McElderry, they just get dropped.
“He was a lovely boy with a lovely voice, and he must be looking around thinking ‘what did I do wrong?’ You didn’t do anything wrong, love.
“When you can look at another artist like Alex, and see that the X Factor is no longer what people see, you know they have a future.
“Alex has an amazing voice, and she would have had a career anyway, but when you get to the final few, you are given that kind of hope that you will have a career that will last forever, and nine times out of ten it isn’t the case.”
Knight will take to the road again in November to promote her new album, but she is warning gig-goers that they will need to be the partying type to cope.
“If you can gig hard for two hours live, then this is the show for you,” she said.
“This is not a sit-down, thoughtful-scratching-of-chin concert.
“There will be a couple of moments where you can catch your breath, but I want people to go home knackered. I want them to feel like they’ve had a session in the gym.”