JAMES Blunt could be excused for feeling a little out of place at one of his concerts because they must be the only place where people don't criticise him.

Exactly what the prolific-selling singer-songwriter has done to upset the music industry is a mystery.

He was written off almost from the start by the cool-obsessed luvvies in the business and the compulsorily irreverent music media.

But while they’ve had plenty to say, the public’s hard cash has spoken far louder.

At 11 million copies sold, Blunt’s first album is the biggest-selling of the 21st Century, and his second has so far chalked up a whopping three million.

Unlike the music snobs who make a living out of being obsessively negative, the public know class when they hear it, and the good thing about Blunt is that you hear it just the same when you see him live as when you hear him on the CD.

There’s nothing complicated about him – maybe that’s why so many people don’t like him – he’s just all about the music.

Practically every song’s a standard classic – time will probably tell them to be classic standards – and he can’t half sing either.

At the MEN Arena on Wednesday night he went through the full repertoire in an enthralling and entirely enjoyable one hour and 45 minutes.

The great thing about him live was that every song sounded exactly like it does on the album. That’s what the people want at a concert.

Where even some of the greats don’t even attempt the highest notes live – and that included Freddie Mercury who was the most technically gifted singer in the history of pop – Blunt hits every one apparently effortlessly, even the ridiculously high ones in High.

Combined with stunning musical backing from himself and his four band colleagues, the overall effect was superb.

He never seemed to be acting, just enjoying himself, and that rubbed off on the big audience who splashed out more than £30 a time and got their money’s worth.

Blunt’s not your normal star, in fact he appears to be more an ordinary guy in a star’s body who would be more at home in the audience.

And that’s exactly where he was for part of the show when he jumped into the standing throngs and ran through them to the far side of the arena to shake hands with those seated at the far side without a thought, or seemingly a care, for his safety.

When you’ve been around the world with the army, I don’t suppose you are all that scared of a few hundred adoring fans.

Speaking of the army, the song that did it more than any other for me live was Bravery. While every song was delivered with pinpoint attention and perfection, this one – never one of my favourites in the past – had a depth of emotion and enlightenment that surprisingly made it the show-stopper.

There’s not a lot of chat from Blunt between songs. He seems awkward conversing and often has the look of a deer caught in headlights while he is singing.

In fact, he’d get nowhere in this business if he had to rely on his image alone.

It’s lucky for him he’s an outstanding songwriter, singer and live performer.