SOMETIMENEVER are the new St Ives Battle of the Bands champions after a winning performance at Friday s competition. The St Ives group walked away with the first prize of £800 after beating four other bands in front of a big crowd at the Burgess Hall. I

Sometimenever receive the cheque from Stephanie Howe, chairman of St Ives Youth Council

SOMETIMENEVER are the new St Ives Battle of the Bands champions after a winning performance at Friday's competition.

The St Ives group walked away with the first prize of £800 after beating four other bands in front of a big crowd at the Burgess Hall.

I was one of five judges at the competition, organised by St Ives Youth Council, and was very glad to see my own first choice take the crown ... and the cheque.

The standard of the bands was excellent, but I wouldn't say it was a close decision - Sometimenever were, for me, deserved and clear winners.

Art

First band Alpha Road were my second favourites. They had a clutch of very catchy, slightly funky tunes and a great, unassuming stage presence. My first thoughts compared them to the Bluetones, but I think they lost their identity a little as their set neared the end. I was hearing echoes of Slash in the guitar solos, when they had been carving out a niche for themselves by avoiding the heavier end of the rock spectrum.

Next band A.R.T! were the clear favourite of much of the crowd and this enthusiasm seemed to spur the band into a good performance. Their music was quite vocally abrupt, punky pop with melodies that didn't carry quite as far as their impressive energy did. The drums were hard, the guitars distorted and there was evidence of some strong songs that much of the crowd were mouthing the words to. They had a good frontman backed by a strong band and put on a confident show.

The Uncovering were a band I thought I was going to like. They way they looked as they were setting up was fantastic - all old-school rock - very 70s - very Almost Famous the movie, in fact. The music was all screams and few lyrics and melody - quite possibly a superb example of the genre, but I genre I care very little for. Despite this, they were extremely enjoyable to watch throughout their set and I've never liked a band so much whose music I disliked so much. There's a big compliment in that sentence somewhere if anyone's prepared to dig around for it. Highly watchable, just not so listenable.

Fourth on were Sometimenever. Another quite shouty band (sorry to use such technical descriptions), but setting them apart was their inspiring, determined, optimistic outlook. The guitar harmonies were delicate and intricate - a perfect counterpoint to their punky, cutting guitar. They could perhaps do with a few more songs that are equal to their best work, but when their best is preached vehemently and melodically from the stage it's rousing, inspiring stuff. By not trying to tick all the boxes, they ticked every single one.

The final competing band were The Holdup from St Neots. They took second place in the competition and won a cheque for £200. Not bad for a night's work. They wore their punk pop influences on their sleeves and sounded especially good with two singers at the microphones. A cover of the Arctic Monkeys went down well, but might have detracted from their own identity a little.

While the judges totalled up their scores, last year's winners Restrainin' Order played a relaxed but strong set, buoyed no doubt by the fact that they were not competing.

As Sometimenever took to the stage to collect their prize, there was a lot of vocal support for A.R.T!, but it was all in good humour. There wasn't a bad band on the stage and the whole event served as a stunning showcase for a very healthy, if a little shouty, music scene.

For more photos of all the bands visit www.flickr.com/photos/chrisboland

CHRIS BOLAND