When HMV announced the 'Next Big Thing' festival, an event to run across nine venues around the UK over several nights in February, I wasn't really that interested until I spotted the Spinefarm Showcase, featuring three very similar bands guaranteed to warm you up on a cold winter night.
I headed to the Garage in North London just in time to catch the first band of the night, The Treatment. They're a young band from Cambridge with some old school rock connections, who've found themselves in the spotlight a lot since forming in 2008. Their influences are clearly from the classic rock era and they take to the stage with the swagger of their idols, rather than a group of boys not that long out of school.
Over the last year I've seen them a few times, and have to admit that they are rapidly improving. With their incessant touring of the underground circuit, support and festival slots galore, their hard work is paying off and proving above and beyond that the way to cut through these days is to get out there and play. One of the highlights of tonight, which really showcased their talents, was the cover of Slade's 'Get Down And Get With It'. This video, albeit poor quality, will give you a flavour for what these youngsters have in store when you go to one of their shows.
And talking of incessant, that's the perfect word to describe who's up next, Jettblack, another band proving that gruelling live schedules is the best way to get yourself known. They jump straight in and 'Get Your Hands Dirty' with their sleaze ridden hard rock show shaking the foundations of the venue.
They've got an extremely strong fan base here in London and you can see that a lot of them have made the outing tonight in support. Their show is reminiscent of the 80s, with a sex, drugs and rock n' roll attitude, but there is something fresh about them. They're not trying to just mimic what the bands were doing then, adding their own unique style to bring it right up to date.
These boys are hardly new, having been on the circuit now for a good few years, and with the constant gigging and partying (you'll find at least one of these boys at every event in London these days) what on earth has happened to their second album? They give the audience a treat by playing some of the new tracks and they go down well, but where is it? Only time will tell if it ever sees the light of day. Maybe one of their many groupies have nicked the masters.
By now the venue is to capacity and everyone is certainly warmed up for the headliners to hit the stage. Finnish glamsters Reckless Love should not be billed as 'Next Big Thing' as that happened a couple of years ago, with the release of their self-titled debut 'Reckless Love'. But it's not that album that kicks the show off tonight, but the title track of their latest album 'Animal Attraction', which from my point of view is a very weak second release, with far too many pop songs for my liking. Maybe that's why HMV have only just 'discovered' them and hence dubbing them in the new category.
With a short set of only an hour, they continue playing track after track from the second album, before launching into some of the better known songs. Frontman, Olli Herman, is mainly known for two things: high kicks and baring his perfect six-pack, and he didn't disappoint tonight, making the ladies in the audience swoon, and the men look on with envy, as his shirt was removed on several occasions. In fact there were a group of older brutish men in front of me that hurled abuse at him whenever he bared his assets.
There is no decent footage from this show to give you an idea of what a naked Finnish glamster looks like, but this video from two years ago should help.
I wonder if these boys have peaked on the rock circuit and are now on their way into the commercial world of the charts. I feel their show is much more likely to appeal to young teenage girls, who will queue for hours to get a glimpse of his abs, over the discerning rock fans looking for some solid songs to add to their collection.
That aside, tonight was very enjoyable, and with a price ticket of only £10 for some good quality entertainment, and some good deals on at the bar, then I fail to see how it could be anything less. With the ongoing trend of overpriced tickets, and commercialisation of most of the independent venues, this made for a refreshing change and I would guess the majority of the people were thinking the same way as they headed out into the cold.
One final thing, which really was great to see, was that the host of the evening wasn't one of the traditional ones to appear but Neil Jones from Star FM in Cambridge. He's a great supporter of new bands, and deservedly he was the one to welcome them on stage tonight. Not really a new talent in himself, as he's being doing his rock show for many a year now, but nice to see him showcased. If you missed Neil on stage don't worry, as you can generally find him baring his arse at a venue near you, after a shot of Jaeger or ten. Or if you want to take the sensible option, listen to his show every Sunday night at http://www.star107.co.uk.