Last Thursday night (4 February) at London's Lexington was one of those evenings you don’t fast forget.
With Waylor up first, it was great to see ex-Dry The River man Matt front and centre in his new guise. The set was impressive, and for it only being his second show, certainly a promising start.
Next up was the latest kid to have caused an A&R scramble, Isaac Gracie. Responsible for half of the guestlist I'm sure, the newly signed 21-year-old from Ealing was being stopped for selfies before he even stepped on stage. Filling that space between James Bay and 'future Harry Styles' that no-one knew they needed, Gracie possesses that one thing you can't manufacture; his voice is pretty incredible. Frankly, his new home Universal could have him sing the news and they'd no doubt be able to sell it, making the rumours of Lucian Grange's attendance all the more realistic. Look out for Isaac at SXSW where he'll be playing the BBC Introducing & PRS Foundation showcase at Latitude 30.
Also off to SXSW are Hampshire based three piece Blaenavon, headlining their second sold out London show in a matter of months. Now, Blaenavon are a band I've been lucky enough to catch a fair few times since their debut single, seeing their progression as both songwriters and performers has always been a happy bonus. Tonight though, we all bore witness to a brand new Blaenavon - a band who've benefitted from having not only the time away to write freely and develop ideas, but who've just finished recording what will be their debut LP with a certain Jim Abbiss (Arctic Monkeys, Adele etc).
Opening with current single "Hell Is My Head" (the Katia Ganfield video for which you can see here), they move swiftly on to "Into The Night", their aforementioned debut. Taking time out to chat to family in the crowd, it's a sign of a far more relaxed frontman than before, funny too. All three demonstrate a level of confidence I'd not yet seen, showcasing new songs such as "Pray For Death" and "Orthodox Man", as well as a surprise or two via a new style and structure; with a further three new tracks at times dipping into almost Theme Park-esque pop. Add the live production aspect (great lights...) and the ending on future classic and firm fan favourite Prague, crowd surf and all, and the entire night felt like a defining event.
With team Transgressive providing the industry oomph, and the guiding arm around the shoulder, there's no reason Blaenavon can't do whatever they desire. After Thursday's display of growth, intelligent writing and emphatic performance, the only safe bet would be on their success.