Great Music, Messy Night

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Admiral Shiny Sides @ Inferno, 28 AprilProceedings start tonight from Alex and Elliot aka Admiral Shineysides; Elliot’s home made stick bass eliciting comment and questions from spectators. Series of their usual country and soft rock covers, with Johnny Cash taking dominance, and the occasional same-veined original slipped in. Another tough gig at the Inferno, with very few of the many punters paying attention to what’s going on, instead accepting it as background.

Kimari Raven @ Inferno, 28 AprilRock Regeneration’s Chinners walks in just at the end of their set, and Kimari Raven takes the stage after what seems an inordinately long wait. Starting solo with a two week old number with a rather long title she whizzes through some of her staples. She’s admitted to nerves, and being wired on cola, yet looks totally relaxed, sitting cross legged on the stool. Shame the lack of Inferno lighting with the crapberry really can’t do justice to her cheeky grin, and the energy she’s putting in to her show. Kat joins her for Monster and stays for the remainder of the set.

Pachango @ Cellar Bar, 28 AprilSo on to the Cellar Bar, where Pachango are playing an absolutely rammed venue, upstairs on the front landing, on the stairs and down. The music is raucous, Selby’s chants and poetry in-yer-face, and the party totally ripping as a consequence. What a good laugh. Shame I decide to leave to catch the end of the Inferno, especially as I’m rear-ended on a roundabout on the way over, thanks to the incredibly messy wild wet weather and slippery roads :(.

Gaz Brookfield @ Inferno, 28 AprilAt Inferno Bristol based Gaz Brookfield has been given special billing during the week. Now, despite the small active listening audience, those here are on their feet and shouting along to the choruses he’s introduced. One man and a guitar can definitely rock a joint. Photo courtesy of Jay, a nicely merry punter on an different smartphone. Gaz sings a bit of blues, slightly country, and pop/rock. As well as singing, he’s also capable of the rap/chant lyrics style that is so in vogue at present.

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Dorset Music Awards Grand Final

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DMA logoWe start an evening celebration of local music in Dorset tonight at the (rarely visited for this hack) O2 Academy, with the new Dorset Music Award prizes for 2012.
One Best SongDisco’s Out (Murder’s In)
Best Album / EPConstellation
Favourite Venue (Voted By Musicians): Mr Kyps
Contribution To The Music Scene: HopeFM

DMA judgesSurprised and pleased with those results, HopeFM can only play a part in the scene because there is a scene to contribute and participate in, therefore are standing on the shoulders of all the other nominees in this catogory, promoters and studios alike. Mr Kyps have a great venue, I’m sure more bands have played other venues than Mr Kyps, however they are the stage local bands aspire to, so deserved for that. Since I love Disco’s Out (Murder’s In) and Constellation so much, I’m chuffed on their behalf for the music awards.

14 April DMA final - Know One pwn the O2 AcademyOn to the Best Live Act, and Know One start in grand style jumping all over the stage, making the most of the various risers and podiums; the fans are loud and vocal even above the massive bass whumps and brass/wind showoff. Dean drops off the stage and skanks around in the camerapit, before jumping into the crowd (security chasing him) while the others in the band continue. 14 April DMA final - crowd shot attemptThe interlude while he rejoins the stage is filled with crowd chanting as encouraged by the band via drum beats, and jumping on the risers. A great opener and setting a high bar for the others to follow.

14 April DMA final - Bad Magic rock outBad Magic work really hard to reach said bar, and in my mind do achieve this towards the end of the set, with the crowd finally jumping around to their hard rock. While some say they are a blend of Guns and Roses and Def Leppard (possibly why I’m not personally a fan of their music – I gave this up as I left my teens), their guitarist is awesome, and lead Chris’ Freddie Mercury-like posturings result in shouts from the crowd. A good performance, with all the movement worthy of this stage, and though I’m not into their genre, its a solid performance overall.

14 April DMA final - Peace Love & Gloves Peace Love and Gloves are next, we can’t get away from the goujon crowd shouts even as they are setting up. 14 April DMA final - Peace, Love & Gloves soft toy merch - very originalThe crafty mums -literally- have been busy behind the scenes making hundreds of Peace Love and Gloves logo soft toys, which are liberally thrown into the crowd. As ever the music is good, and Mark’s lyrics about life and love, won and lost, are insightful. The crowd are moshing from the off, everybody – band and crowd alike – are really happy to be here, and the exuberance shows.

14 April DMA final - PachangoPachango have the unfortunate task of combating a now very noisy crowd, there are shouts all over for all of the bands. How to do this? Kick off loud and proud, and blast us away with sax ensemble and awesome percussion. Making the most of the huge stage just in being able to fit, rather than active movement compared with say Know One, vocalists Selby and Claudia are the only ones dancing about. No one can deny the fiesta atmosphere they create, its really good to see all the floor area filled with moving bodies, not just the front mosh area.

14 April DMA final - winnersThe winners are announced – Pachango win all the festival slots, Peace Love and Gloves are given an unprecedented Larmer Tree second slot, and also scoop up the big prize. Big Congratulations to both those bands.

The result astonishes many, until one understands how the three judges reach their decisions – they each pick two bands, one for their festival, and a different for their award winner. All unanimously pick Pachango for their festival, and pick each of the other bands as their winner, creating a 3-way deadlock. All bands have performed well and are absolutely fantastic at what they do, yet are all deemed derivative of their chosen genre. Peace Love and Gloves are considered the most original and “now” so walk away as the best out of the deadlock.

Again we have controversy aroused from the passions all fans feel for their love of music, all it means to me is that music is the overall winner and that everyone can choose to walk away from the 2012 Dorset Music Awards celebrating the vibrant variety and passionate nature in the Dorset music scene.

14 April DMA final - all finalists14 April DMA final - Paddy - Dare 2 Festival14 April DMA final - Catherine - Purbeck Folk Festival14 April DMA final - James - Larmer Tree festival

Dorset Music Awards Semi Final 2

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DMA logoHere we are again, Mr Kyps, Saturday night, Dorset Music Awards, all of last weeks’ bands are represented in the crowd, good to see as this is one of the core reasons the DMAs exist for, musicians celebrating musicians being what its all about.

Darren Hodson & The Southern Companion @ Dorset Music Awards Semi Final 2, Mr Kyps 24 MarchThis second semi final is being started by Darren Hodson & The Southern Companion. Noticeable for the good music groove, the keyboards, a thumping kick bass, and the backing vocalists synchronised in their dance bobs with the beats and with each other. Starting up-beat before slipping in a slower love song, which has an instantly sing-along chorus and more good grooves. Halfway through they start with the work I really appreciate (I mentioned before the Allman Brothers style of guitar work), I notice augmented with a bottleneck slide coupled with Darren’s clear vocals to create a great sound. Unfortunately I miss having a catchup with them afterwards; they have gigs tonight with two other bands that members are in, so they have to dash off.

Jack Grace solo @ Dorset Music Awards Semi Final 2, Mr Kyps 24 MarchJack Grace makes an interesting solo start on stage with acoustic riffs and harmonised “oohs” into a loop station, while the others join him on stage, and kick into an incredibly lively opening number – Alex playing some fast drums, Elliott on his special homemade bass, and Jack switching to electric guitar, while the acoustic loop keeps an undercurrent. Jack Grace band @ Dorset Music Awards Semi Final 2, Mr Kyps 24 MarchI missed their DMA Quarter Final appearance and heard it was good, now I can see why people rave about Jack Grace. They slip into playing some really good tunes, however they seem to start sounding a little samey to me; other commenters suggest that other sets (e.g. at Boscombe Community Fair) have been slightly more involved and varied. I like the name checking halfway through the set, and the beats pick up again for a strong end

Bad Magic @ Dorset Music Awards Semi Final 2, Mr Kyps 24 MarchBad Magic give us a resounding slap in the face with their musical attitude, and are also the first of the three acts so far who seem to have noticeably pulled a crowd along, lead Chris invites us to get involved, and the response is good with claps, shakes, jumps and shout backs. They are the only one of the many harder rock bands this year that have reached this stage of the Awards, they are the first tonight to make a lot of the large Mr Kyps stage, perhaps as they were here last week seeing what other acts did. What I really like about them is that they may be young, yet they’re not holding that up as a band wagon, just getting on and playing the good music, loud! They’re also brave enough to announce a new song, wouldn’t have noticed if it had been unannounced, to be honest, its as polished as the rest of the material.

The Devils Rejects @ Dorset Music Awards Semi Final 2, Mr Kyps 24 March As expected The Devils Rejects pull no punches musically and take Mr Kyps by storm with their furious and frantic Irish induced punk folk. The lyrics are clear, the music is great, the crowd are enthusiastically jumping around, and everyone seems to be enjoying the performance. Matt (vocals) is name checking the songs throughout, giving enough of a miniscule intro to each one to keep interest and information without interupting the pace, very hard to do and pulled off well. Likewise the constant instrument changes accordian / violin and guitars are very slick. The whole means there is no let up in the unrelenting pace and the ensuing mayhem in certain parts of the crowd makes for a fun spectacle.

Pachango whole band @ Dorset Music Awards Semi Final 2, Mr Kyps 24 MarchOur finale tonight is presented by a very on form Pachango, confession time here – I used to find them quite variable in their output and production, this has totally been replaced by consistently amazing, vibrant performance. Pachango horns & percussion @ Dorset Music Awards Semi Final 2, Mr Kyps 24 MarchThere’s so much movement in the crowd, also reflected on stage, hence the multiple photo treatment. Unfortunately the crowd has thinned out before the eleven pm start, yet as last week, those remaining are being treated to even more dance-able music than the previous act, which itself is hard to follow. Pachango vox & strings @ Dorset Music Awards Semi Final 2, Mr Kyps 24 MarchIts great seeing the chaps from Know One particularly bouncing out to the beats. Unusually and slightly naughtily, we are indulged with an encore – this crowd baying for more being hard to resist – this creates slight confusion as Pachango replug in for this unexpected development but handle it well and more or less straight in to an even bigger finish.

Dorset Music Awards Quarter Final 3

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Dirty Jerkers @ DMA QF3 24 FebWe start early tonight with Dirty Jerkers, who have been carried over from last week due to illness. They have sond good guitar sounds for their opening song that I like, and are throwing plenty of life into their set, for the most part (the bass player rarely turns to face the crowd). Even though there’s a less than normal crowd due to the early start – up to near capacity by the time they finish, the songs are squeezed in short, to get as many in in their set time. Its a shame they need to retune halfway through the set, as they lose the momentum gained from the third song, a strutty number which shows the variety these guys have, and let’s them visually entertain too. It’s a good set, I just feel I’ve wanted more verbal encouragement from the stage to the crowd to mosh, as the music and their antics require it 🙂

Voice Of Reason @ DMA QF3 24 FebVoice of Reason always pull out a lot of stops musically and visually, within the limitations of the showcase format. Singer Addie Jay encourages us to get involved, he’s also worked hard on the promotional material, good quality flyers etc. As an example of a break from their otherwise regularr hard rock, Dead And Gone has an amazing a capella start, voices in unison, while the drummer juggles his sticks in time to the beats during the song.

Veetacore @ DMA QF3 24 FebI’ve previously described Veetacore as a good retro 80’s sound, doing them a bit of an injustice. They are modern while having that cool throwback with the music, aided by clever (one handed! – the other holding the mic) synth work against thumping bass riffs. Becky keeps name checking, and forward throws teasers about gigs and a new EP, which is a good thing. Tom’s guitar pedal board deserves its own photo – its huge.Veetacore - pedal board (well oversize) They also sing harmonies on occasion, and are pretty animated to the punchy music, they go down well with the crowd too.

The General Public @ DMA QF3 24 Feb I’m expecting great things from The General Public, and they don’t disappoint. Starting with a bit of a slant to Talking Heads, they next move into the funkier numbers I like the best from them, starting with Disillusioned Generation, a brilliant capture of the current mood of the nation, whether old or young. Mike’s faces are something to behold, and the dischords between bass and keys (standing up makes a big difference to the visual dynamic) work really well for me. Richie’s drumming is absolutely spot on, I just hope others have seen it this way too for them to have enough votes to push into Mr Kyps, which is what all the acts at this stage are working towards.

Pachango @ DMA QF3 24 FebOur next act is more an experiment to squeeze the ten musicians and percussionists of Pachango on stage together, which works well enough on the wide Winchester stage to also give them room to jump around to the rhythms. They are on good form tonight, punching through the Latin influenced numbers, introducing a new one, including some of Selby’s beat poetry, all in all performing a good set.

Pump Action Radio @ DMA QF3 24 FebPump Action Radio are all that I expected of the theatrical rockers that they are. Big chords. Big riffs. Big jumps. Big hits. Big sound. And all tight with it. There’s a good mix of the heavy rock, the lighter guitar work, the solo vocals (appropriately screamed out) and the varied use of the drum work, along with encouragement for use to participate too. A good live act, which is what this is all about.

Personally I’m pleased that all the acts in the Quarter Finals have had such good performances, it confirms to me that we have such an amazing scene here in the area and that all those chosen to reach this far have been worthy of their places.  Texas Red @ Smokin Aces 24 FebA quick sortie into Smokin’ Aces finds Texas Red entertaining the packed bar, though they are widely ignored by too many people in here they play some good tunes and put on a good act, a good end to a great night.

Dorset Music Awards Live Heats

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I started writing this halfway through the “DMA40”, 41 live bands over one weekend of amazing live music heats, for reasons that will become obvious as other blog posts materialise, I was unable to publish halfway through the weekend.  For those that don’t know, I had been invited to be on the judging panel for this, the most active event ever on the local music circuit.

I’ve spent 12 hours over two days watching, listening to and critiquing 39 bands (1 extra slipped in at the pre-heat stage, 2 didn’t make it), and while the upfront thought of this was daunting (12+ hours?, 40!? acts), during the day itself it’s an absolute delight.  As ever with the Dorset Music Awards, it’s a highly polished event, and somewhat charged (not as highly charged as some of the later stages can get) as many bands here are aware of how important these awards can be to careers.  I take my role in these proceedings seriously, yet hopefully good humouredly – we’ve all got to live with each other after this, after all…

Overall, the absence of ladies was particularly noticeable – particularly for the rock acts, hence I saw very little to differentiate vocally or visually, and just playing your stuff loud and proud isn’t going to help sway opinion.

It’s a little different this year – the bands can ask us for instant feedback after they’ve played; many unfortunately didn’t take this opportunity, however for those who are interested I have one hopefully two “good thing”s, and one perhaps two “room for improvement”s for each act (looking at it, much of these are repeated comments).  I’ll share these “verbal one liners” that have been shared with those bands that asked, Trevor and Richard have asked me not to publicly share anything about any of our thoughts on details (I’ll be writing individually to bands using the contact email the chaps provide).  I’ll also not be talking about who’s got through and so forth.

Judging Notes

There seem to have been an awful lot of rock bands this year, all playing good stuff, and only some providing anything more than just the music – and we are being asked to judge on live performance above all else.  To me, this means being good at performing, drawing in and working with an audience, a bit of stage movement where possible to suit the music and the mood, it’s not just about having good music, as that’s been proved to reach the live heats. As there were so many rock bands, those that captured our attention for whatever means were seen in a different light than those that just turned up and played (probably really good) tunes.

I’ve also seen many of these acts (25/41), some of those many times before, and some I would count as good friends (12/41).  To keep my impartiality, and prove for Richard and Trevor’s sake that I’m keeping impartial, these acts are “marked” harsher than they would normally.  We supply a “Yes, Maybe Yes, Maybe, No” score for each to enable uu to quickly seek agreement on the majority of the 20 that do or doin’t go through, then “haggle / agonise” over the rest.  I deliberately down-change friends to the next value along, and then rely on the other judges to provide their thoughts to put a band through either directly, or into the melting pot.

I also cannot count past performances (good or bad) into the mix.  I purely have to go on what is presented to me on the day.  This is very harsh, because the number of times I’m out mean I’ve seen bands generally play good gigs and bad gigs (that’s why I still keep the blog going after the first impetus, so I can look back at bands to see what I think).  This will often play against a band in these type of do-two-song competitions, as in the back of my mind I think I know they can do better, or worse, than what they’ve done.  E.g. I saw Mobius Strip on the Saturday night, not twigging they’d be back on the Sunday in the line up.  They performed well both times; on Saturday night they had a massively active crowd going for them, which wasn’t there in entirety on the Sunday.

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As ever, these are my opinions, offered (as ever in my blog) in the interests of encouragement and yet to provide opportunity for improvement.  My opinions aren’t offered to try and pull down or discourage, but in the hope that those that go through will know something to try in the next rounds perhaps, and those that don’t go through perha

Day One

So to some brief notes, in order of appearance, we have:

Sepia Daze – Tough opening as the first band, and did good with this.  Energetic music, would like to see more audience engagement during songs.

Bad Magic – Good solid rock, well played and balanced.

Darren Hodson & The Southern Companion – great South Coast (USA) sound, longest name here, does the “Darren Hodson” bit need to be present? (later discussed it sets them apart from Darren Hodson solo).

States Of Matter – Tidy endings and well conducted to do this. Bit cliche rock. Consider more audience engagement.

Krista Green – Enjoyable.  Visibly get the crowd on your side if you can.

Veetacore – Good 80’s style (retro). Good crowd engagement – looking around etc.  Could smile a bit more.

Escapefrom’98 – Better than last time seen (see last week’s write up).  Good ska/punk and a lot of fun.

Robin Joynson – Good catch of vocal levels (enabling tuning) between songs. Good demonstration of confidence.

Voice of Reason – Lot of fun. Good voice.  Bass player hat entertaining (kept slipping over face).

Estee’s World – What you did would be good for street work, consider finding a DJ for live performance?

Ollie Mutter – Good working the crowd. Would appreciate more interest going on with the guitar work.

Pachango – Awesome.  Never apologise or comment from the stage on how feel about own performance.

The General Public – smashed it (was an amazing performance).  Could Hope (keyboard) stand up?

Sean Hatton (Solo) – Well played, well sung.  Brave and confident doing a new song (and telling us about it).

Know One – Again, another smashed it performance.  Uniforms good (only band noted to have a “look”).

Lets Go Safari – Liked the harmonies.  Good guitar work, but didn’t really “grab” me

Aaron Gregory – Can tell he’s absolutely passionate about the music, yet guitar sounded unclear and “mushy”.

Icarus Falling – Good contrast, and good vocal, though was unsure by the mumbled introduction to songs.

Shaun Gary Palmer – Good vocals and good guitar style, though it sounded “mushy”.

Yellowgroove – Love it. Like the jumping around and the audience incursion.  Normally have a crowd – didn’t see them this time.

Peace Love and Gloves – Good commercial sound, brought a huge crowd (though unsure what they were shouting).  Personally not a fan of the shouted lyric.

Day Two

Simon Lane – Good songs, good vocal range.  Unsure about the use of the music stand.

Dirty Jerkers – Good and loud (not overblown) despite the early start

Blue Stone Walls – didn’t show (think the same band didn’t show last year)

Tom Clements – Want to see again.  would be good for Bournemouth Unplugged (if it runs)

Constellation – Good engagement with the crowd. Second song a winner, unsure about the first (uniqueness)
Monkey’s Uncle – Good crowd winner.  Good harmonies. Cheesey dance, but I like it.

The Devils Rejects – Good songs well played.  Would like to see more stage animation to suit the music (second song better than first). [hard to find on facebook…]

Switchmen – didn’t show

Manikin Time Shark – Like the space they’ve given to each other to solo in.  As this is progressive rock (and niche) consider also dropping keys out for a time too, to make the music more accessible for non-prog fans.

JCJesus – Good bass and violin combination.  Not my preference of musical style but well performed.

Yoofs – Worked on the look re:hair.  Get out there and gain gig experience (easy to say, hard to do I know).

Paint It Blue – Tight band.  Clean guitar work. Hannah is an asset. They noticeably stuck around for much of the day.

Empire Affair – Good tunes and well performed.  Felt they lost the thread through being overblown loud.

Sketchy – Liked the keys work (although they didn’t seem to – used the F word).

Tim Somerfield – Here all day (+++). Good technique, ace timing (counting silence).

Space Ace Robot – What ?!?.  They’re enjoying what they’re doing, though it’s pretty inaccessible – futuristic Jazz.

Mobius Strip – Lots of moving about in keeping with the music.  Need to get the crowd moshing around.

Jack Grace – Like the groove, and like the vocal lines without the band being full on – different.

Pump Action Radio – Good solid rock, well played. Would need to be a bit more animate on stage for me.

The Deltorers – Good vocal work, and OK sounds. The live performance wasn’t stand-out (seen a lot of rock this weekend). [say they’re from Bristol]

Overall Impressions

What am I walking away with from seeing all these acts? Which ones were memorable? Which ones would I like to see go further?

Veetacore impressed me – they were the only band doing what they’d done – and I still have “Dogger Bank” running round my head, despite hearing loads of music since. (I have played this on the show, but even so it’s just memorable). They also one of the groups to feature a female lead, doubly memorable.

Pachango put on a great show – everything seemed to come together for them, though negative comments from the stage at the end spoilt it for me. Remembering back to last year (which I can’t count for the judging part of the job), the performance this time was so much better.

Know One seemed to be the only group that had thought through their appearance with regards a “uniform look” of black shirts and ties, they also played excellently.

Tim Somerfield seemed to have arrived before I did on the Sunday and stuck around for near enough the whole day.  He also played well, though his legendary customary crowd vitally didn’t seem to make an appearance for his performance. I also found out (at the end of the judging process) that he was supposed to have had a fuller band with him

End of a busy Saturday night

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Big Face Reggae InfernoAfter the Talentcall competition, dashed off to catch Big Face Reggae vs Disco’s Out (Murder’s In) at The Inferno.  Due to things overrunning, I’ve missed DO(MI) and catch the most part of Big Face’s set, which is as brilliant as usual.  DO(MI) also played a strong set, causing the audience to shout loud for both bands when compere/referee Mr Lively asks for a poll; he calls the result a double knockout.  It’s been a good evening for live music all over town, clearly.

Pachango @ Cellar BarAfter Big Face Reggae finish, I head off back to Boscombe to see the last couple of Pachango songs in The Cellar Bar.  As ever awesome rhythms, and a packed dance floor (aided by half the band being there instead of on the stage, there are so many of them).  The volume of sound just from the unmiked percussion is incredible, and the whole Latin vibe is really going down well with the capacity crowd.   A great ending to a good night of music.

DMA Quarter Final 2

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Its always good to see a sizable crowd at these events – neither the bitter wind that’s keeping things cold outside nor any alternative musical attractions such as Hannah Robinson at Mr Kyps haven’t kept people away from The Winchester.

Lauren BannonLauren Bannon is our first act of the evening, the aforementioned sizable crowd are fortuitously quiet for her performance. Despite being early, I still miss the start of her set, in the part I hear her voice is strong, as stated she’s captured the attention of the crowd with it, she’s also wearing an outfit that had been noted on facebook as she purchased it, it looks good on her, the photo doesn’t really do justice. Even though she can belt out the numbers, tonight she seems more laid back, although it’s obvious from her body language she’s really pleased to be here and is putting nearly everything she’s got into singing and owning the crowd.

Local internet TV crew issTV are also here – I missed them last week though they were present. News reporter Sarah is trying to catch interviews with each of the artists off stage, and capture something of the live performances too, ready for a DMA special report on their Life channel.

PachangoPachango are second up. They wake us up with their kicking tunes – there’s nine of them on stage tonight, 10 including Rich as he gets up to announce them (I lose him in the fury of people and instruments in the set up!). Interesting to see Rab from Dead Lettuce has joined them on guitar tonight – this is to replace Will who’s about to embark on a Canadian tour with Douglas Firs. Pachango are really rocking it tonight – a few people are commenting they’ve never seen them perform so hard, and it shows in the audience and in everyone’s faces – we’re all really enjoying it.

County HospitalCounty Hospital make a bit of an entrance – they walk out from the back room in scrub-gowns, masks and caps, with a wheelie bin, incinerator and megaphone. They are also really giving it some tonight – high energy, showmanship its all there. Even at one point where lead Tim has a lapse in concentration and seems to forget the words, its still as if its part of the act, just the hesitation showing in his face giving it away.

Incinerator!We find out the reason for the incinerator halfway through – drummer Ed takes a baseball bat to it in time with the silences in one song; Tim uses it in another. For their finale they climb into the bins and, beckoning people onstage, exchange instruments with these audience members. They end up all lying in a heap as if they’ve died onstage while their music continues without them. Very artistic, and I can hear people all around commenting how they loved it and wanted to see more. Good stuff to hear when this is a fan based part of the competition.

Bel CasinoBel Casino are the penultimate act – they’ve kept the acoustic based tunes, yet really cranked things up this year – they are pacier and rockier than before; really putting in the effort. They make an excellent foil to what’s gone before, just good solid music which does what Bel Casino do best – evocative of the summer and life living by the sea and on the beaches. This is South Coast rock and I’m loving it! They’ve somehow cut and carved a new edge to their sound – its a well worn cliche, but that’s the only way I can describe what I’m hearing. What could have been a tired Seventeen is bouyant and full of life, renewed with energy. The same is true for closing number Castaway.

The Neon TigersAfter the usual short changover The Neon Tigers take to the stage to close the evening off. Again this is a headline not a graveyard slot – while the crowd have thinned its only slightly and the remaing audience have pushed forward to still keep the capacity vibe. I’ve already described The Neon Tigers’ sound elsewhere, suffice to say they are still performing their theatrical rock, with no gimmicks this time around, just amazingly solid look and sound. Jon is still the amazing guitarist, Gary still looks good in the military uniform and playing those good bass hooks, Rich is ever present with vocals and performance to match the other two, John is as solid as is desired on drums in this kind of rock band. I just really hope they do what’s needed for the audience and the judges in the next rounds to make it as far as the final, where I still think they belong.

Having seen all five acts tonight, I can’t make a judgement call who will and won’t be in the semi finals of this competition – all of those I’ve seen tonight have given performances of a lifetime as far as I can tell, and deserve the very best from the fan vote…

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