Liam Bailey - Jazz Cafe, Camden

It’s fair to say HMV are casting their net wide when they call their annual new music festival the Next Big Thing. With up to three acts performing each night at a potential eight venues over ten days, there will be over 100 acts performing at the multi-venue festival and it’s hard to imagine every one of them being able to make it big. Not to mention the fact that the festival also features headline acts such as Young Knives and Funeral For A Friend which kind of makes a mockery of the festival's name. Still, there’s bound to be at least one piece of gold with such a large line-up and Liam Bailey, who we introduced you to last month, proves to be one shining example.

Even though Liam’s set is the first on the night, this isn’t a reflection on him as these gigs are more of a collaborative effort with only the headliner (tonight being American duo The Pierces) getting a longer set, and only 15 minutes at that. The brevity of the 30 minute set does unfortunately lead to the crowd interaction being kept to a minimum; however, when faced with a crowd that aren’t likely to know much material, it’s understandable that the focus was on the music to win them over. With gems like forthcoming single ‘You Better Leave Me’, the heartfelt ‘It’s Not The Same’ and the belting ‘Heartbeat’, Liam did indeed win over the crowd, as evidenced by the crowd’s urging for another song after original set closer ‘Heartbeat’.

It’s hard to see how he couldn’t really with his husky, soulful voice that not only makes him sound way beyond his years, but also makes you believe that he feels every word; every crushing tale of love that he weaves. However it’s not just raw, downbeat music that Liam can produce. He’s also more than capable of producing upbeat numbers, more in line with funk than soul, such as the aforementioned ‘Heartbeat’ and impromptu set closer ‘Hush The Many’, which has a tempo akin to Dragonforce in comparison to his other tracks, but the former is the one with the show stopping chorus that takes the crown of set highlight in a crowded field.

If there was one disappointment set-wise, it’s that none of the tracks from his two EPs make an appearance, but this was tempered by the fact that the set proved to be a great early teaser into his debut album, which is taking shape very nicely it seems. Whether Liam’s style of old school, low-key soul can make an impact on the charts remains to be seen, but there’s no doubt that the talent is there to reach a wider audience than the easy listeners of Radio 2. And if he does, well, all that remains is for us to say we told you so.

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Last updated: 18/04/2018 13:23:40

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