'That was harder than I ever imagined' - Louis Tomlinson's emotional X Factor tribute to late mother
Louis Tomlinson made an emotional return to the X Factor on Saturday evening, performing his new single Just Hold On only three days after his mum Johannah Deakin's death from leukaemia.
The live audience at the show which made One Direction famous went wild as Louis launched into the new single, a project with DJ Steve Aoki who played keyboards on a raised portion of the square platform they stood on.
Digital lighting behind them spelled out the name of the song, while plenty of smoke cascaded around them during the performance. Louis was introduced by show host Dermot O'Leary as he stood centre stage in a white T-shirt with a multi-coloured lightning bolt design and skinny jeans.
Though the song's lyrics included the line "It's not over til your dying breath", Louis managed to stay strong through the performance though his voice cracked with emotion towards the end.
He immediately earned a huge standing ovation from the audience and the X Factor's judges in turn - Louis Walsh, Sharon Osbourne, Nicole Scherzinger and Simon Cowell.
Louis did not say anything to the audience though he had returned to Twitter earlier in the day ahead of his performance, writing to his 25.3 million followers: "All the support has been incredible! Let's do this together tonight ."
Simon Cowell, though, had something to say immediately after the performance, addressing Louis directly with a touching tribute.
"Louis, I have to say I've known you for six years. The bravery of what you've done. I respect you as an artist, as a person and your mum was so proud of you and she was so excited for the performance. She's looking down on you tonight."
He said: "I've known you now for six years. What you've just done, the bravery you've shown, I respect you as an artist, I respect you as a person.
"Your mum was so proud of you, she was so looking forward to tonight and she's looking down on you now. Steve, you're a great friend to him."
That was harder than I ever imagined. I want to thank everyone around me and all of the amazing fans out there that made that so special!— Louis Tomlinson (@Louis_Tomlinson) December 11, 2016
Tomlinson blew a kiss up to the ceiling as he listened to Cowell's tribute.
It's reported that his One Direction bandmates, Harry Styles, Niall Horan and Liam Payne, were backstage in his dressing room during his performance. It's the first time all four band members have been in the same room since they announced their hiatus in December.
Feeling so much love around me and my family . Mum would have been so fucking proud ( sorry for swearing mum ) love you !— Louis Tomlinson (@Louis_Tomlinson) December 11, 2016
Tomlinson, (24), thanked his fans and Steve Aok for their support on Twitter after his performance.
He said: "That was harder than I ever imagined. I want to thank everyone around me and all of the amazing fans out there that made that so special!
"Feeling so much love around me and my family . Mum would have been so f****** proud ( sorry for swearing mum) love you !
"Also @steveaoki , you have been such a rock and inspiration throughout this ! Pure talent and a real gent !"
On Saturday, Briana Jungwirth, Louis's ex-girlfriend and the mother of his 11-month-old son Freddie, paid tribute to her ex's late mother, writing on Instagram, "My heart aches. Every time I look at Freddie, I see you in him Jay. I will always remember the times we shared and the talks we had. I looked up to you and sadly only knowing you for a short time, I aspired to be just like you in a mother to Freddie."