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Marcus mania reaches fever pitch

Merseyside has been gripped by Marcus Mania since the 23-year-old stormed into the X Factor finals.

The hairdresser, from Crosby, showed he was back to his best when he performed before a screaming crowd of thousands in Liverpool city centre.

He had been told to rest his voice by mentor Gary Barlow after battling a throat infection earlier this week.

But after performing a full set of tracks on Wednesday night - including Maroon 5 hit Moves Like Jagger and Stevie Wonder's Superstition - his fans were left in no doubt that he is in it to win it this weekend.

Marcus also went back to his roots earlier this week, visiting the hair salon in Crosby where he had worked since he was a teenager.

There were tears all round when he was greeted by friends and salon owners Jamie Lester and Jonathan Skeggs.

Mr Lester said: "Marcus is a fantastic character.

"When he's here he just sings all the time.

"He's always smiling and just puts everyone in a good mood.

"The customers love him and have been asking about how he's doing every time they pop in.

"I'm so proud of him.

"It's an amazing feeling seeing someone you know on a show as big as X Factor. And he deserves it all as he's worked so hard."

Marcus has also been backed by family and friends, who have hit the streets of Merseyside to drum up support.

Close friend David Heath, who reached the X Factor final stages in 2006 with Eton Road, said: "We've all been out and about drumming up support for Marcus.

"I was up at six this morning, walking around in the rain putting banners and posters up.

"Marcus is made up with all the messages from everyone and thanks everyone for their support."