An enthusiastic crowd turned out to support Unsigned at The Waterfront on Sunday 19 May.
Hosted by The Garage with support from Young Norfolk Arts Trust, Norfolk Music Hub and Youth Music, there were great performances from a mixed bunch of artists.
The project was created to provide young musicians with the opportunity to take their music, performance and professional skills to the next level. Hannah Birtwell, Leon O'Leary, Bridget Holmes, Solomon Lake and The Renadeans certainly did that.
Birtwell kicked things off with some catchy pop and RnB fueled songs. Complete with catchy hooks and a voice that belied her age, she grew in confidence with each track; drawing people to the stage. There was a lovely filmic quality to O’Leary’s set. Reminiscent of Damien Rice at times, it was a solid performance, with haunting melodies, distinctive vocals and strong harmonising with his sister Issy.
Holmes, appearing solo for the first time since the break-up of her band, gave a mesmerising performance; helped by luscious vocals with songs that built in intensity. Lake – a balladeer in the Ed Sheeran mould – infused an infectious Latin American vibe into his pop / folk set which went down well with the growing crowd.
The Renadeans – drummer Ivan D’Eath, his brother Max on bass and backup vocals and their friend Paul Murray on guitar and lead vocals – were the perfect band to end the night. Great vocals, dirty guitar licks, perfect patter; it was the sort of music best played loud or not at all.
Congratulations to The Garage’s Youth Tech Team of Josh Thompson, Benji Filmer and Michael Kearney. They were in four hours before doors opened, setting up sound and lighting for every act; making sure everything went smoothly on the night. All musicians themselves, they said the experience has helped them when getting ready for their own gigs.
Also enjoying the night was The Garage’s Young Patron Finn Doherty, who performed at Unsigned in 2017. Doherty, who also took part in the The Garage’s Musician Development Programme, remembered feeling pretty nervous beforehand.
“It put me on one of the biggest stages, probably the biggest stage, I’ve ever played so that was an experience in itself. There was a whole lot of development there. I think it was possibly one of the first times I’d done recording in a studio as well.
“I also learnt a lot about marketing, branding and stuff like that so there was a lot of first times which was really nice. I’d definitely recommend it. It’s good if you’ve done some gigs before and want to make that jump to the next level and open up a lot more opportunities for yourself. It’s a great gig to do.”
In the run-up to the night, each act got valuable, focused training time with experienced professional music artist Millie Manders, who helped them improve their artistry alongside music career mentoring and marketing advice tailored especially to them.
The young musicians will be provided with video captured from their performance to help promote themselves.
Carrie Mansfield, Creative Director at The Garage, said: “We’re so pleased to have teamed up with The Norfolk Music Hub, The Young Norfolk Arts Trust and Youth Music to provide this exciting opportunity for young musicians. Our work is all about supporting and encouraging young people to believe in themselves and their talents - this project does just that and has been a real success.”