SOUTHAMPTON’S home-grown star Craig David delivered a sensational show at the BIC on his first major arena tour in 16 years proving beyond doubt he is back with a vengeance!

Of course Southampton had a taste of this when he headlined Common People last summer but this full blown two hour concert was another class and proved the most exciting South Coast prelude to his Ageas Bowl epic this August.

Performing tracks from his new album, ‘Following My Intuition’ interspersed with hits from his extensive back-catalogue of garage mixes and a DJ set, the 12-times Brit nominated singer-songwriter could not have looked happier or been made more welcome as he returned to his old DJ-ing stomping ground.

Dressed head to toe in white and joined by a cracking five-piece band and two backing singers, he strolled on stage to the most rapturous of welcomes as he performed ‘Aint Giving Up’ from the new album followed by the popular 2002 hit ‘What’s Your Flava’ and the  year 2000 classic ‘Fill Me In’ which prompted a singalong from the capacity crowd.

Thrilled by the rapturous welcome the 35-year-old recalled being 18 and doing short DJing sets at Bournemouth’s Cage and Zoo nightclub and, always humble,  he thanked everyone for being there all these years later. The evening was all the more special as his parents were sat in the audience too, he said.

Louder than Words- which he said was one of his favourites from the album, stood out with its catchy chorus, and he announced ‘Walking Away’ as the song that had changed his life in 2000. It is incredible to think he was just 16 when he wrote it in his mum’s  flat in Southampton. It sounds every bit as stunning as it did back then and, as he said himself, “it is a song that seems to grow with age”.

‘Love You No More’, a real heart-wrenching breakup song from 2005 really stood out, followed by a great duet with support act Lauren Faith, 21, as they performed the highly infectious ‘Got It Good’ that they had written together.

Craig spoke of his dad’s strong influence on him growing up listening to his reggae records which had filtered into the new album with the brilliant dance floor track ’ Warm It Up ‘ really capturing the mood.

David made reference to the pitfalls of the music industry and his own career as he announced his 2003 hit Rise and Fall “which predicted the next chapter in my life” but he added: “It makes me proud to be on this stage here and I want to thank each and every one of you that gives me love.”

But there was no need to wallow on any blips in his career or dwell on nostalgia as he then launched into his 2016 hit Nothing Like This, an irresistible garage track which had the already enthusiastic crowd bouncing off the floor.

This was followed by a thrilling rendition of Justin Bieber’s Love Yourself as made famous in his Live Lounge performance in 2015.

And then came the ultimate Craig David track ‘Seven Days’ prompting thousands of phone recordings and the biggest and loudest singalong.

As this ended  exactly one hour into the show, Craig and the band left the stage only for him to reappear on his own a few minutes later in a change of clothes and a DJ deck. Now we were transported to what felt like a typical night in Miami at one of his TS5 club nights with colourful dazzling strobe lights blinding our eyes, and a cranked up bassline pounding our ears. Along with his hit Rewind there were tracks from Destiny’s Child and Sean Paul, Drake and Stormzy and I desperately wished I was up dancing and not confined to the balcony seats. With the appearance of Big Narstie on stage – who joined Craig to perform with him on their 2015 hit ‘When the Bassline Drops’ – a real crowd-pleaser, we were back with Craig’s songs again and we finished on a massive high with his new mixed up version of his debut single Fill Me In and ‘Where Are U Now’ by Jack U – now called ‘16’ on his album.

It was the most brilliant night with one of the greatest and most relevant music stars of this millennium who surely will be around for many, many years to come…I’m already counting down the days to August 1st at the Ageas!