First onstage was the pale skinned, One Direction styled George Ezra - but nothing that came out of his mouth matched his well-coiffeured image. On the one hand he had a straight-up, nerdy-bloke humour which made a great aside to his intense old man joe performance. The voice that came out of his mouth (regularly smooshed into the mic) was that of Isaac Hayes. More specifically, the Chef from South Park. Commercially, it's a potent mix of Adele's soaring penwomanship and Kings Of Leon's rocky growl. But the sight of George Ezra was so incongruous, I couldn't get the following out of my head:
Next up my personal highlight of the evening Chloe Howl (pictured) - embodying everything I want from a popstar; she was fun, upbeat, belted 'em out but didn't take herself too seriously. And there was only one duff slow song, all the rest are proper hits (in the sense that Marina & The Diamonds write proper hits but don't chart. sad face.) and would sit happily in the Girls Aloud legacy. The thing that makes her stand out from all these comparisons is her Lily Allen/Kate Nash speaky enunciation. She delivers them with lots of shrugs and friendly knowing sneers and dances with the air of someone who has spent a lot of time practising them in the mirror. It's an endearing combo.
Then the big star - in views atleast - is Mikky Ekko, who's had 241 million hits on youtube via Rihanna with Stay. With his band, he mixed epic/Coldplay style swooping indie balladry like a boring male Sia, and padded it out with lots of echoey (Ekko-y, if you will) noise and the kind of plink plonks you might hear in say, a Philip Glass soundtrack. He gave a performance of stadium arrogance, and grew visibly annoyed by the lack of attention coming from the room. "Smile, the worst is yet to come" became a threat after his joyless declaration that he was "so happy to be here".
Finally Raleigh Ritchie bounded onstage, all wide-eyed puppy dog excitement, literally bouncing across the stage and firing slow raps and a mishmash of rock-funk-soul-pop. Kind of like Drake. He certainly captured the crowd's imagination with people gasping and whispering, loosening ties and moving around with the kind of rapt attention Mikky was demanding. What he doesn't have in youtube views, he makes up for in crowd-wowing, humble charm. For now.