Bob Geldof at the YouBloom Song Contest

By James Simmins

YouBloom LIVE Phil, Neev + Bob on Stage

So this was it – the last hurrah for The Cobden Club – a working men’s club that became one of the first of the ‘upmarket’ private member’s clubs to open in the area and has now closed it’s doors to the public, seemingly for the last time. 

The YouBloom Song Contest is an online free-to-enter songwriting competition that gives away 26,000 euros in cash to the lucky winners.

YouBloom LIVE Judges with NeevFeaturing such musical luminaries as Bob Geldof , Nigel Grange and Rupert Hine, the panel help mentor and mold the songwriters, on the way to helping them reach a wider audience. In a very relaxed and entertaining speech, Bob Geldof explained how, despite sometime’s finding Phil Harrington’s - the CEO and founder of You Bloom's - taste in music “f***ing excrable” , and the outpouring of the occasional “inappropriate comment” from the panel, they had managed to finally reach agreement on who had won. 

As it turned out Neev Kennedy was the winner, with her song “10 Times” and picked up a useful cheque for 10,000 Euros.

Having missed performances by Joseph Dean Osgood and Renny C., I arrived in time to catch Marina V’s performance. 

Marina V Marina V was a finalist from the competition with her song “You Make Me Beautiful”, a very commercial sounding AOR meets Tori Amos/Kate Bush style number, that was performed very well. A bubbly LA resident, Marina sang and played piano to a high standard accompanied by a very capable acoustic guitarist. Another song, “Sunshine Guaranteed”, originally recorded at Graham Nash’s home studio, sporadically and slightly incongruously segued into a version of “Daydream Believer” by the Monkees, but a great acapella number at the end showcased the quality of her voice very well - one which could have some commercial potential.

YouBloom LIVE Neev

Neev Kennedy was the winner of the YouBloom songwriter of the year contest 2010. Having collected her award from Bob and the other judges, along with a cheque for 10,000 Euros, Neev took to the stage to perform her winning song “Ten Times”. 

A strong, passionate vocal delivery with powerful high notes, showcased the song (with its cleverly put together and stylistically diverse sections) well. A slightly soulful alternative-pop sound, with the band playing around an acoustic guitar-driven core, augmented Neev’s powerful vocal delivery and dramatic songwriting style well. 

As the set progressed the 3rd song exhibited a more melodically complex sound that felt more band driven and this trend continued with the 4th – with more upbeat drumming and Stone Roses-style guitar riffs providing a comparatively funkier sound. The last song “Cold Blooded Killer” featured a compelling vocal performance and a good indie-rock chorus.

Although Neev did not necessarily have the most striking overall band sound of the night, the quality, complexity and overall maturity of her music definitely gave her an edge on the other artists from a songwriting perspective.

The next band up, introduced by organiser of You Bloom Live in Derry Patrick Cutliffe, were a young band from Derry City. Intermission, a trio with Nirvana-style energy levels and heaviness, acrobatic vocal delivery and great on-stage intensity, are a quality act. 


YouBloom LIVE Judges with IntermissionCombining Pixies-like melodic riffs with Clash-style classic chord changes, Intermission utilise many of the strengths associated with great 3-piece outfits - immaculately heavy drumming with lightning fast rolls underneath powerful, melodic basslines, the guitar set to full bleed. Sparser verses provide a great platform for powerfully delivered vocals incorporating improbably high notes – these are counterbalanced by choruses that suddenly burst in with huge power.

An obviously committed, well-choreographed band, they are heavy but very melodic. Funnily enough, I didn’t think their competition entry was their strongest song on the night, maybe “Tied Up & Twisted” was better. I couldn’t help feeling that maybe a tiny bit less distortion on the guitar would have made some of the soloing more melodically audible, although the solo on their last track (a real mosh-pit special) was a really good Frank Blackesque effort.

Overall, Intermission are a real high-octane act that surely will find success with their compelling, energetic music. Like Nirvana fronted by Feargal Sharkey, they are original enough, but also recognisable enough to infiltrate the popular psyche. 

The next band on, The Guilty Ones, had an altogether less simple approach. With a line-up consisting of drums, keyboards, guitar and vocals , they manage to create quite unusual music. 

The Guilty Ones

Whilst there is an unmistakeably 60’s undercurrent to their music, this has been hybridised with more modern influences to create quite a unique sound. 

Singer Olivia gives an energetic yet assured performance, playing the tambourine and singing faultlessly whilst continually strutting her stuff – a young Lulu somehow springs to mind, with maybe a hint of Bjork for good measure. 

Some songs convey that classic polished 60’s feel with a swing feel drumbeat, whilst others have a more Smiths-like sound or even slightly Coldplayeqsue feel. With a charismatic singer who is really absorbed in her performance and dances like a deranged puppet, The Guilty Ones look set to achieve greater things.

The band’s last song “Mr Goat” is a classic example – a Hendrixy guitar break set over a jazzy drumbeat, mixes with retro organ vibes to create a haunting backdrop for an impassioned upbeat number.

Her and the ColoursHer & The Colours were due to perform as a band until their drummer was forced to pull out with tonsilitis. Whilst leaving us unable to witness the band in their entirety, it still gave us a glimpse of what they were about with an unplugged set. Singer Syd and guitarist Janay played acoustic versions of what appeared to be punk/rock’n’roll influenced material. Although lacking the impact of a full band, it was still easy enough to hear that they write punchy, gritty material based on their own personal experiences. 

Syd has a ‘liquid’ voice with clear high inflections, which Janay backs up well and both play the guitar to a reasonable standard. Their 4th song had great backing guitar riffs and was slightly reminiscent of The Cramps, which augmented by Syd’s slightly vampish look, could hint at their true direction.

The last act of the evening was the uncompromising Quilla Constance. Gyrating in a lime green leotard adorned with pink sequins, pearls and diamante, Quilla sings songs about iPhones, liposuction, sex aids and others such burningly modern topics. 

Although some of the audience had already chosen to depart, Quilla gave a committed performance. A comparison with Annabella Lwin singing “Sexy Eiffel Tower” would not be inappropriate and I’m sure that Quilla must be a very popular club act, with huge potential for the future. You get the feeling that she could do o.k. in markets such as Japan.

All in all it was a busy night of high quality entertainment, a fitting finale to the Cobden Club. I’m sure Micky P. will do very well as he moves his night to every Friday at The Blag Club in Ladbroke Grove. I for one wish him the best of luck!!


Photographs courtesy of http://www.flickr.com/photos/youbloom/









Find out more about James Simmins:
Loco Cabaret  
James Simmins Journalist
James Simmins Guitar Teacher 
James Simmins on the Source business directory



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