By Gig Scene Editor (and judge) Graham Chalmers
Introduced in extravagantly confident form by the James Bondian Alister himself, the eight-piece Alister’s Theory triumphed in this year’s AMP Awards at Harrogate’s Royal Hall.
The besuited five-piece, female-led outfit (eight, if you include the glorious horn section) from St Aidan’s High School weren’t exactly ‘indie’, or ‘rock’, though the final did contain plenty of acts of that ilk.
But the judges - and the crowd voting, for that matter - recognised a superbly professional group of youngsters who made being a swinging funk-soul band look very easy, indeed.
In front of a packed crowd containing teenage fans, sponsors and business mentors, judges Simon and Sharon Colgan of the Blues Bar, Patrick Dunlop of Stray FM and my good self, all the young bands impressed.
Narrowly missing out on top spot were the exciting indie three-piece Albion (think the missing link between The Jam, the Arctic Monkeys and Bombay Bicycle Club) fromSt John Fisher School, also Harrogate.
Third were the magnificent The Shades from King James’s School in Knaresborough.
My personal favourites, this spectacularly-attired, louthe and louche six-piece looked like the grandchildren of early Roxy Music - all swagger, attitude, gold lame suits, leather jackets and, well, shades.
The Business team winners were Team Forte from King James’s School while the superbly VIP hospitality was provided by the youngsters of Team Overdrive from Boroughbridge High School.
With ‘spin-off’ AMP Awards finals coming up shortly in Leeds, Bradford and York, this friendly but impressively productive ‘battle of the bands’ is rapidly becoming the best such competition in the entire UK.