Review: Cambridge Band Competition Final @ The Junction

AFTER four heats, plenty of debate, some great bands, and some not so great bands, this year s Cambridge Band Competition has been an interesting event. And the final, on Wednesday at the Junction in Cambridge, was certainly no different. The lively audi

AFTER four heats, plenty of debate, some great bands, and some not so great bands, this year's Cambridge Band Competition has been an interesting event. And the final, on Wednesday at the Junction in Cambridge, was certainly no different.

The lively audience - a mixture of regular gig goers, family, friends and casual observers - were expecting great things. Hotly- tipped Symbo opened the evening. The band was brimming with energy, youthfulness and a fake American accents, catchy and charming if not the finished product.

The Beards, winners of Heat 3, threw fish into the crowd and sang songs about mackerel. Humorous, eccentric and the complete opposite to Symbo musically, the band were tight and visually a treat. I still doubt if there's a hit single in this band, but they certainly add a lot to a good night out.

Next up, The Mr Rons. The youngest band to ever win a heat in the competitions history, the group came accompanied by a vibrant audience and, very much like Symbo, an energetic front person dominating proceedings.


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I enjoyed their set, and although I didn't feel they did enough to win the event, they certainly have a lot to offer for the future and we will no doubt be featuring this band again soon.

Solvent, from St Ives, found themselves in the final thanks to their audience, whose loud shouting won them a slot via the 'beer cheer.'

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A more mature outfit, good song writing was the order of the day for their set. Possibly the most downbeat band of the evening - and that's not a criticism, good tight playing and something generously understated about Solvent's set made their appearance all the more welcome in a competition where so many acts are overly concerned unnaturally about image and performance.

Last up was The Alex Harris Band. Refreshingly pop, clean and commercially exciting, Harris is a natural front man, entertaining the audience as if he's playing Wembley Stadium whilst his band are as solid as any good backing band should be.

Harris, who won the competition in 1999, isn't afraid to seem cheesy, whilst his song writing ability has been arguably the strongest in all four heats. A frankly irritating compere tried desperately hard to keep the evening flowing for what felt like a very long period of time before it was announced that there was a tie-break between three bands for the winning slot - Alex Harris, Symbo and The Beards.

More agonising tension followed, before, just after midnight, it was announced that the winner of this year's competition was The Alex Harris Band.

A long, but undoubtedly exciting climax to the Cambridge Band Competition 2006, but always a pleasure to see a worthwhile artist pick up this accolade.

RICHARD PAUL

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