It really should be said that someone threw a great deal of money at this showcase-type of event and there was also a laudable charity aspect, with the ChildLine charity selling raffle tickets to the assembled guests.
A special note of praise should also be extended to the venue, an atmospheric former parish church, which has seen a huge conversion job and is a quite superb place for Bournemouth music fans to strut their stuff.
But what of the entertainment on show?
Well, the compere for the evening was a member of the CFK Company, Chrissie Ferkin, who arrived bedevilled with laryngitis, but did his best with the welcomes.
Despite his perspiration and sheer industry, the art of the compere is one which Mr Ferkin does not seem to have the knack of. There was a lot of shouting, charging around and encouraging the audience to whoop and holler, but I’m afraid not a lot else. I suspect that what we had here was a DJ who was simply having a go. Cleaning his shoes might have been a good place to start!
The arrival of The Funky Little Choir perked up proceedings.
Here we have a 16-strong ensemble of teenage choristers, led by an inspired and inspiring music teacher and pianist. The Annie Lennox song Walking on Broken Glass and Stevie Wonder’s Signed, Sealed Delivered, I’m Yours were both sung with all the necessary feeling and gusto, but there was restraint when restraint was called for and the appearance of this funky and not so little choir was a real tonic for a grizzled and gnarled trade reviewer.
More teenage performers followed, this time in the formidable shape of Dorset-based rock band ASP.
Bobbing around like the car ride in Wayne’s World, these four young guys deserve a huge pat on the back for presenting a selection of their own self-penned songs, in between splendidly played covers, such as a great attempt at Jerry Lee Lewis’ Great Balls of Fire. Full marks here for a ballsy new band who play without fear.
Simon Woodley is a bonny young swing singer and pianist.
Since the arrival of other notable bonny young swing singers, such as Jamie Cullum and Peter Grant, there is hardly a dearth of bonny blokes looking to tread their path to stardom, in fact, there are dozens of them.
Woodley looked nervous and slightly wooden, but once he loosens up and smiles a little at his audience, as opposed to the present impression, which is the rabbit caught in the headlights look, I think he could do very well. Mentor figures are really required for young performers like this one and there are precious few with the right credentials willing to lend a hand and an experienced eye these days.
It’s hard to know where to start with Wayne the Weird. What seemed like an unintentional pratfall whilst walking up the stairs on to the stage should maybe have told Wayne the Weird that a magician wearing sunglasses is not such a hot idea.
As for the rest of his weird act, I do believe that I used to have a boys’ book of first magic tricks, which explained the ‘mysteries’ of much of what Wayne was doing. Some equally bemused stage ‘volunteers’ were also unable to figure out what this puzzling young man was up to either. A sight gag involving a sex toy, which I believe is known as a rampant rabbit and a rabbit glove puppet provided the climax to Wayne’s weird spot.
Singer Sarah Brackstone, we were informed, is normally part of another act, but was appearing here solo for some reason or another.
The voice is of the belt it out variety, with the best item being a well sung attempt at the Snow Patrol song Run.
Unfortunately, a combination of talking down the applause, which is at best naive and at worst very rude, to an audience who are bothering to acknowledge your talent, and the lack of stage movement, as well as other presentational shortcomings mean that, in my view, this talented singer needs to go away and learn the disciplines needed to be a success as a solo artist.
Two-boy duo X-Cite should not be confused with a number of acts I have seen nationwide during the last showcase season who are all using this name.
This particular version, comprising two male performers, sang some good, lively material and managed to engage with the audience. This pair of sober-suited singers could brighten their image a bit, but they did have the look of an experienced and book-able act.
Singer Grant James is another of the bonny young swing singers currently plying their trade.
Smart suit and loosely knotted tie formed this young man’s stage attire and, complete with his own fifties-style microphone, memories of Bobby Darin would have been evoked with those of a certain age in the audience. An overly ambitious attempt at the Michael Buble arrangement of That’s Life, complete with a rather fussy backing track, took the edge off things a bit, but James will definitely be of interest to some.
Close-up magician Tony Young informed us that he was a chippie by trade, but there wasn’t much work about, so here he was doing his thing around the tables. Some nice, deft deflection and palming techniques will ensure that, when not engaged in the world of woodwork, a career in close-up magic should prove a lucrative sideline.
We were informed prior to her appearance that singer Helena Mace is about to release her debut album.
Naturally, I wish her luck as her self-penned songs sound like easy listening meets Euro-pop.
For some reason, the rather gothic-looking Mace reminded me of Enya.
As the art of the song-writer is not really my field of expertise, I will simply say that some of the seven songs Mace performed sounded extremely catchy.
However, continuous gulps from a strategically placed drink and no discernible stage presence or knowledge regarding use of the stage, left the impression that here was someone who really ought to brush up on her performance skills, if it is her intention to get out there on the road to tour and sell an album.
Dark Ocean are a well-known recording rock band, who were the headline act at this event.
Clearly these guys love what they do and they used this Bournemouth gig to showcase their new lead vocalist. A rousing end here to an absorbing evening out on the south coast.
A cast of thousands, or so it seemed, behind the scenes. All allied to photographers and video people, who combined to give this debut showcase event a professional look and feel.
However, I would venture to suggest that the friendly people running the show have quite a bit to learn about how to best present a trade showcase.
For the purposes of continuity it might have been a much better idea to actually have the acts on stage and ready before they were announced, as opposed to the pregnant silence as they descended a staircase and then got ready to rumble.
However, on the plus side, those providing the PA and lighting had things pretty much spot on and the extremely welcome staff at the Landmarc certainly played their part.