Another year and another eight bands have been chosen to compete for a slot on one of Glastonbury's Main Stages in this year's Glastonbury Emerging Talent Competition. The eight had been selected by 40 music bloggers from thousands entries, and a long list of 120 and now had just 10 minutes each to try and win themselves a place on the Festival's line-up.
However this year there's an added incentive PRS for Music Foundation has partnered with the Emerging Talent Competition to offer prizes for three acts this year. As well as being given a slot on one of the Festival's main stages at Glastonbury 2014, the winners of the competition would also be awarded a £5,000 PRS for Music Foundation Talent Development prize, with the two runners-up also each being awarded a £2,500 Talent Development prize.
First up this year was Izzy Bizu a young singer from South West London accompanied by musicians that deliver just a backing track, so her voice gets a great showcase. It's certainly her voice that's the stand out element, her delivery is such that I find I'm not listening to the words she's singing just that soulful tone. This is old school singing, the kind that few girls Izzy's age attempt today. I'm sure she'll draw comparisons to newer jazz singers like Amy Winehouse and Adele, and when someone mentions Rickie Lee Jones her blend of R&B, blues, pop, soul, and jazz seems to really fit Izzy's style. She does a stirling job of opening the contest and her pleasant sound could easily be transposed to a festival tent. I'd certainly listed to her again.
Next up another vocal showcase (well it is the final of the telly show, The Voice, tonight) with Only Girl, this time the singer is backed up by two girls one on percussion and one on keyboards, it's nice enough to listen to, but there's no immediate hook that sets them apart on the night.
M + A are an Italian duo, only they have a friend with them, and so they're a 3 piece tonight, and whilst I haven't seen them as a duo before I'd say that extra person gave them a bit more dimension as they deliver a set that instantly makes an impact, they have a real infectious groove that despite never hearing them before gets us all moving. Deep vocal drones, clicking samples, and percussion they throw it all into their set including whsitles, and a Whirly! Any band who uses the Twirling Sound Hose in a ten minute showcase deserves to win in my book. Incidentally I once spent a night with a Whirly up at Glastonbury Tor in the early nineties - seems that old stone building makes heck of an amplifier, and the locals weren't impressed the next day. M + A leave this crowd most impressed, and all the children in the audience tell me they should win, though I notice that that could be because they've all been bribed with CDs of the duo’s album.
Pandr Eyez are a guy on keyboards supporting Ferren the singer. Their 10 minute set sees them travel all over the music spectrum of pop, making them hard to pin down sonically.
I quite enjoyed her sultry vocal and again the sonic support from the synthesizer does a great job of showcasing her voice to the maximum. Whilst it's very accomplished there's nothing outstanding in the short time we get to look into Pandr Eyez.
Gibson Bull plays acoustic guitar, and has a lot of followers in the crowd, surrounded by a band he showcases some decent tunes, and again the children at the front like this performance. We're certain to hear this blend of pop at festivals in the future again. He’s played the circuit before, I was expecting a blend of folk and blues but I rather liked their faster tempo. You’ll enjoy this on a sunny festival afternoon if you like thought provoking lyrics with a laid back delivery.
Hero Fisher has arrived in style, she's hired a plush tour bus for the backing band and it's parked outside. Very swanky! The personnel she has around her help to flesh out Hero's songs. She sounds like she's ready for playing at festivals, and I'm a fan of the brooding blonde's femme fatale stylings. She doesn't make as big an impact as the Italians have but I felt there was an outside chance she could win this evening.
Indie garage music must be making a comeback and FURS could well be part of the new wave. The trio's second song gets the best reception, and sounded like it will be a 'hit'. They do little for me, but the crowd rather take to them, and there's clearly something in their sound. Another act destined for the festival circuit, and already on a few festival bills this year. They're obviously going places, and I'm a bit surprised they aren't chosen by tonight's judges in one of the slots.
Cornish surf punks The Black Tambourines, who had me bobbing along with their accomplished high tempo rock, and infectious high energy. Once they'd finished I felt it was a two horse race between them and M + A. This lot are sure to be getting crowds bouncing in fields up and down the country, and looking back they were probably my highlight of the night. Definitely worth going to see if you're a fan of old school punk rock. Whoever has done the running order of the acts tonight, has done a great job of putting the liveliest act last. A regular feature of these finals over the years.
The judges awarded them a runners up prize along with our opening singer Izzy when they returned having made their decision. M + A are announced the winners, and I think that's merited. There's at least four acts tonight that could become household names, which goes to show just how good the competition has become.
Another high standard of acts on display, the competition continues to unearth quite a variety of talent and some real rising stars. Check out those that get slots on the line-ups of festivals you're at this summer you won't be disappointed.
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