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A boyband who set the standard

BY ANDREW JOHNSTON

The phenomenal global success of One Direction has been a gift for groups like Union J.

Not only does it prove there's still a huge appetite for boybands, but also – as long as Harry Styles and Co are off touring stadiums on the other side of the world – it leaves the way clear for Union J to clean up.

And clean up they did at last night's first of two sold-out Waterfront shows.

If the similarly-styled X Factor runners-up might initially suggest a supermarket own-brand 1D, that seemed to be enough for this audience.

Josh Cuthbert, JJ Hamblett, Jaymi Hensley and George Shelley rose to the fans' expectations, ticking all the boxes.

The chiselled good looks, ingratiating banter and humble back stories – played out on video screens on stage – had the audience oohing and ahhing.

Musically, Top 10 singles Carry You and Beautiful Life were interspersed by a string of familiar covers of other big hits.

Sonically, it was as slick as you'd expect, and the quartet's voices held up to the demands of a 90-minute show.

With a second album in the works and the obligatory book deal in place, an arena tour is doubtless the next step in Union J's upward trajectory.

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