Virgin Mobile Sessions - Top 10 acts

by Daniel Fahey
20 August 2007

With cardboard pint in hand I swagger over to the Virgin Mobile Sessions tent chanting The Fratellis' 'Chelsea Dagger' at the top of my voice. Then it all goes a bit quiet.

This session is all about up-and-coming singer-songwriters.  From Candie Payne and chart hit Newton Faulkner to soulster David Jordan and NME buzz band Joe Lean and the Jing Jang Jong.  Here are the top ten tent performances from the weekend - oh, and one stinker as well.

10 - Joe Lean and the Jing Jang Jong
The five-piece's mention in the NME may've got the word out but it may all be slightly premature for the London youngsters.  They sound a little like a pub band working the circuit and at times it shows that they've only been playing gigs for eight months.  The band are indie through and through and although they obviously enjoy making a racket onstage their songs lack any real depth.

Highlight - 'Lucio Starts Fires' - Lucio probably shouldn't be starting fires, unless he's with Keith Flint, but it's easy to see why the band are set to release this as their next single.  Harmless indie-pop that is too well trodden already but it sounds like it may be a grower.

9 - Sam Beeton
I'm quite sure his mum isn't Mrs Beeton of 'The Book of Household Management' fame.  He's too young (just 18) and she's too rigid and rule-worthy.  Live Sam Beeton is completely laidback as he swoons through his collection of love lullabies.  He does sound slightly like a girl but his country-eque ditties make him a perfect opening act for those who overdid it on Friday.

Highlight - 'Winter' - Blink and you could miss his whole set with ease because it is all a little repetitive.  However this soft number showcases Beeton's gentle guitar work and needs no real thinking about.

8 - The New York Fund
The band combine indie with country to give the crowd's ears a bashing.  Their blues aren't particularly ground breaking but they have the feeling of a rock and roll band rather then a country American outfit from the Deep South.  They still have the pain that blues requires, which shows in their hardworking live set.

Highlight - 'The Guns of Camden Town' - Ignore the complete title rip off from political punks The Clash and this song can stand strong on its own.  It sounds slightly like Kasabian, but without the swagger, before building into a melodic chorus which echoes The Kooks 'You Don't Love Me'.

7 - Newton Faulkner
Faulkner's single, 'Dream Catch Me', rose from nowhere to tumble up the UK charts very quickly and his fans were just as quick to rush to see him live.  The number 7 hit gets the biggest cheer of the afternoon but his 'tapping' technique is what makes this boy so good.  Live he does sound a little American but he makes up for it with his cover of Massive Attack's 'Teardrop', which sounds raw but is beautifully plucked doing the classic complete justice.

Highlight - 'Teardrop' - Covers are all about making them your own and Faulkner does this almost effortlessly. 

6 - Tom Baxter
Baxter's music builds elegantly from his tickling guitar into a huge cacophony of strings and Arcade Fire style drums.  On record his songs sound strong but live it feels really special.  Imagine the heart of Seth Lakeman and wit of David Ford combining and you're halfway there.

Highlight - 'Don't Let Go' - A wonderful example of how singer-song writing should be done.  The Irish folk sounding tune will break hearts but a little annoyingly the guitar sounds like Woody the Woodpecker's chortle.

5 - Alberta Cross
With a fairly early set and having to compete with the Foo Fighters' secret gig in the background, Alberta Cross don't get the respect they deserve.  Their beautifully constructed songs hold elegant melodies whilst the lyrics reverb the feeling of heartbreak that shapes their first EP.  Their guitar work is outstanding throughout and their roots and Americana crossover treads new ground.

Highlight - 'The Thief and the Heartbreaker' - The EP's title track soaks perfectly in the sunshine and while Dave Grohl's lot have most of the attention just down the hill, this number shows Alberta Cross have the substance.

4 - Scouting for Girls
Scouting for Girls are a mighty power-pop piano driven threesome.  Very addictive and easily sing-a-longable tunes that can't fail to put a smile on your face, 'She's So Lovely' and 'It's Not About You' are instant classics and will be swimming around your head for ages. Certainly this impressive crowd are instantly hooked.

Highlight - 'She's So Lovely' - The track begins slowly but the boys get to the chorus and it really hammer it home - expect to see in the charts very soon.

3 - Candie Payne
Payne sounds a bit like a Scouse Shirley Bassey and any of her songs could land its way on the next James Bond movie.  With echoes of Nina Simone and slight hints of Dusty Springfield, the singer signs off V in wonderful modern jazz flutters with a little help on drums from her brother Howie Payne of The Zutons fame. 

Highlight: 'I Wish' - Haunting sixties vocals with a rumbling bassline and threatening horns illustrates her show-song potential.

2 - The Ting Tings
How a band this good aren't signed still remains a mystery.  The Manchester duo are the Meg and Jack White of the catchy pop world.  Katie White (no known relation of the aforementioned White Stripes members) lashes out guitar riffs while Jules De Martino in his dark Aviators hammers the drums, both looking far too cool for a pop act.  Though the crowd is fairly small the delectable Ting Tings deliver a set that already sounds like a greatest hits collection.  Keep your eyes peeled for these - they will be big.

Highlight: 'That's Not My Name' - Their first release is a stormer - kids beware this is more addictive then Coca Cola!

And just before the best act of the weekend is named there's a stinker lurking...

Stinker - David Jordan
Surreally David Jordan looks like Lenny Kravitz but bumbles along to a track that could've been nicked straight from a Casio keyboard.  His plastic soul lacks anything like the genre's predecessors, including James Brown and Ray Charles, and replaces it with music that's more likely to be found on a local radio station then on a classic piece of vinyl.

1 - The Tigerpicks
Nu-rave's waves have turned into a slight ripple recently, but grabbing on to the Klaxon's coattails and hot on Hadouken!'s heels are The Tigerpicks.  The foursome break the mould of the tent's gentle folk and indie to pull off the Session's only mosh pit of the weekend.  The boys in the band come with a laptop full of beats, grubby keys and punk-funk guitar while the two energetic front-women pound around with teenage vigour performing well rehearsed harmonies.  It's easy to see why Richard X wanted to produce the band - nu-rave has suddenly found its feet again.

Highlight: 'Disco Punk Electric Funk' - Immortalising the band's sentiments and showing off their raucous genius in one track.

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wrote on Friday 24 August :
I loved this tent..a. twas warm and dry b. it was nicely full but not heaving c. it seemed to ooze really good musicians. Newton Faulkner was a revelation - what a guitar player, talented, nice guy and a fantastic set, the guy could hardly speak without the crowd cheering, but very well deserved and one of my favourites of the whole weekend (FF'S aside). Sam Beeton, a young guy maybe 17 or 18 was well frankly awesome, the first act in the Sessions and we wandered in to sheleter - I am so glad we did, a lovely mix of rock, folk, indie!!! it was so diverse, but a lovely voice - yes very high at times but sweet, but very rockey at the other end of the scale - a mix of Dylan, Mayer and the Willburys...the encore never came..I so wish it could. Best song...Leaving it 'til the last, brill middle guitar section. Very different to anything I have heard..hope he comes back soon.. and Blue Rose (Roads?)was stunning. Scouting for Girls..excellent, excellent...excellent, a proper well good band. love em. Not so good for me was Candie Payne, Amy McDonald and David Jordan, but each to their own and hats off to anyone who get up there . Great weekend, great memories. Thanks all.

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