Rhian Daly reports on Band Competition Heat 3 – The Junction, Cambridge, 21 Mar 2007

Local Cambridgeshire Artist
It's the penultimate heat in the Cambridge Band Competition 2007 and things are really starting to warm up. The winner tonight will go through to the final, where they will fight it out against Heks, Fugazirum, the winner from Heat 4 plus the band with the most audience votes throughout the contest. So once more, we let the battle commence...

Under The Streetlamp kick of the night with a sublime blend of pop, jazz and soul, and an astonishing amount of talent on display. Hip swinging rhythms and catchy piano riffs litter tonight's set, whilst singer Jessica Doherty belts out every note under the sun with the confidence and accuracy of a superstar. The only thing tarnishing this otherwise top notch performance is a lack of stage presence. When not singing, Doherty doesn't appear quite as comfortable, although does seem to relax as the set progresses. All in all, a very strong start to tonight's proceedings.

Walking the boards next are Flamboyant Bella (pictured), who've come all the way from Hitchin and have brought with them some sugary sweet indie pop, full of glorious boy/girl vocals and jangly guitars. After the superstrength vocal performance from Under The Streetlamp, Flo Kirton's voice seems a little lacklustre in comparison. This doesn't detract too much from the performance, however, as the tunes are so close to perfection and are highly relevant to most teenagers in the venue tonight. Half an hour and a random yet awesome Destiny's Child cover later, Flamboyant Bella clamber off stage to what will be the loudest cheer of the night.

Third on are Fingersmith - a three piece group reminiscent of a rockier Keane. The songs are good and the musical ability in doubt, but this is a set that'll be hard to remember come the morning as they make absolutely no lasting impression. Stage presence and audience interaction are almost non existent and make for a long, drawn out thirty minutes.

Last, but by no means least, is After4, a group of teenage boys making music that sounds like its straight from the eighties. It's like contempary classic rock, if such a thing exists, and its exhilarating stuff. Storming through a set filled with songs men much older than them would kill to have written, After4 make for an interesting closing band. Receiving a good reception from the slowly dwindling crowd, they seem unphased by the increasing emptiness of the room. Confidence oozes from them as they put on a show to rival most other bands out there right now. The half hour slot flies by all too quickly and next thing you know, they're putting down their instruments and heading off backstage for a well deserved rest.

So, after a very strong heat a winner must be chosen. It's very close but one band has pipped the others to the post - Flamboyant Bella will now play in the final for a chance to win £1000, recording time in a professional studio and a whole host of other prizes.

Writer/Photographer: Rhian Daly