Young stars of the coast launch album

Soundwaves Ultimate Bands Contest/The Cheek - Seckford Theatre, Woodbridge, Saturday night

Jonathan Barnes

Soundwaves Ultimate Bands Contest/The Cheek - Seckford Theatre, Woodbridge, Saturday night

IF the music industry is in meltdown, as we hear so often these days, then somebody forgot to tell these kids. Or, more likely, they don't care. Whichever, it's refreshing to see young bands having so much fun on stage. And, after all, that's what Soundwaves is all about.

The Suffolk Coastal youth music project - which offers support and help to young artists - must feel it's all worthwhile on nights like this. It's staged to celebrate the launch of Songs from the East Coast II, the Soundwaves compilation, and nine of the 10 acts who won their way on to the album are here tonight, aching to impress.


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First up is some pocket-sized pop-rock from Axis, before Mainstream Daydream defy a dodgy name with some straight-ahead rock, bold and boisterous, with heavy riffing that hints at Muse.

Next is Fick as Fieves and, my word, it's the junior Arctic Monkeys, down to the note perfect grooves and story-telling lyrics. The bassist, who looks the youngest here on a night of youth, almost gets an “aaah…” when he takes to the mic. Don't think that was quite the reaction he was looking for, but these boys clearly have talent beyond their years.

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Hey Zuuz settle things down with some acoustic folk-rock. It's a more gentle affair, which starts off with the drummer pounding his palms on what looks like a bedside cabinet he's perched upon, but they build up an impressive acoustic storm as the set goes on.

Ed Sheeran, winner of Archant's Next Big Thing in 2008, is already a formidable and prolific performer. With his green and yellow baseball cap, shock of ginger hair and odd little guitar, he may look like a teenage garden gnome, but his beat-boxing, live loops and 10-to-the-dozen delivery can't help but bring a smile. We're asked to vote for our favourites at the end of the night. He wins. Of course.

It's some sultry piano ballads next with Bernadette, and then it's foot-on-the-monitor time for Containz Nutz, who win the prize for worst named band (only because Friendly Misunderstood Rabbits can't make it). These boys would clearly run through a brick wall to win over a few more fans. And, with some ear-splitting lead breaks and heavy rock bluster, they nearly blow the front row into the balcony.

Silk and Steel look like they've stepped straight out of 1987 (even though they probably weren't even born then), parading some eye-watering leather trousers and show that glam-rock still lives on in a corner of Suffolk, before Dirty Shockwaves hoist the indie flag aloft again in frenetic style.

To finish the night, it's envious glances up at Suffolk success story The Cheek. Here's a band on the brink, and it shows in their stagecraft, their self-confidence, their intensity; songs with frenzied rhythms and shouty choruses. Frontman Rory Cottam is a jack-in-the-box, contorting and writhing like he's whipping an imaginary racehorse; albeit one that goes round in circles. They're a great choice of headliner; still very much a work in progress, they've not yet 'made it', but they're getting mentioned in the right places by the right people; about to record an album and go on tour. They're making all the right noises. For the young hopefuls, they are a signpost for success. Whether any of tonight's supporting cast can emulate them remains to be seen, but it won't be for the want of trying.

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