The best, certainly 'poshest', battle of the bands in possibly the whole of the UK saw success in this year's grand final for a young band from a Knaresborough school.
In front of an audience of hundreds teenagers - and a few adults - in Harrogate's glittering Royal Hall, the winners in terms of the music part of the AMP Awards turned out be Two Tone Rust from King James’s School in Knaresborough.
Easily the cockiest band of the night, the band bravely blended brutal garage band rock with old skool rapping.
Led by likably confident lead singer Jack Henderson, the dynamic four-piece also featured James Beardsley on lead guitar, Ben Fitzpatrick on rhythm guitar and vocals and, impressively, Anish Petit on beatboxing and rap vocals.
As for the runners-up prize, that went to Schrodinger’s Cat from St Aidan’s High School, who relived the 1970s rock era in highly impressive style as if guitarist Mick Taylor was still playing in the Rolling Stones.
Third-placed were I Fly Economy from Queen Ethelburga’s School who featured a brilliant young female singer and whose upbeat semi-organic American pop rock was ridiculously good.
Launched orginally by business manager Marian Farrar St Aidan’s High School in Harrogate and teacher Josh Hill of Boroughbridge High School, who is still the MC, the AMPs have grown rapidly since they were first launched in 2009.
In fact, they have spread from their original Harrogate base to encompass sister events in Leeds, Bradford, Doncaster and Sheffield.
Picking the winners was a harder task than ever in this high quality music and business skills competition for judges Simon Colgan; owner of the Blues Bar, top local musician Ian Peak, feva Festival music organiser Lucy Barrow and the Harrogate Advertiser’s Graham Chalmers.
The evening had opened with a short set by Tour from Queen Ethelburgas, as they had won in York last time around, and closed with Back-Yard Bisons, last year’s winners of the Harrogate final. Asides from the top three school bands previously mentioned, the other contenders this year all made a great impression.
It was a difficult task and any of the bands could have won, which is usually a cliche.
Opening band Breaking Point from Outwood Academy in Ripon were quietly one or two of the judge’s favourites, boasting amazing natural rock n roll cool for their young age with good riffs and a relaxed, lazy swagger.
The Haze from Ripon Grammar School were amazingly atmospheric, sticking to the rule that simple and serious is best.
Blessed with stunning vocals by Sofia Robinson, this haunting trio’s dark sounds wetre reminiscent of primitive Portishead or The XX.
Rejected Reality from St John Fisher High School served up a powerful slice of Emo-ish rock drama with twin vocalists swapping duties and a great fuzzed-up lead guitar sound.
Making a return appearance after doing well last year were the talented girls of Nidderdale High School.
Acoustic-based with amazing harmonies, if anything A2Z were even more impressive this time round.
As for the business awards, during the day, business teams from all the participating schools delivered their presentations to a panel of judges consisting of Leon Fijalkowski, from Orb Community Arts, Kevin Lloyd, from Knaresborough Lions, Sophie Proffitt, from Best Western and Dean Hutchinson, from Heads for Business.
The schools which emerged triumphant were the winners Team Quaestus from St Aidan’s High School in Harrogate with Fortississimo from King James’s School the runners-up and Catalyst from Queen Ethelburga’s College in third place.
It should also be said that The Forest Schools student team did a great job of hosting the VIP hospitality with a 007 theme.
The AMP Awards are supported by by Harrogate Borough Council, the Harrogate and Knaresborough Lions clubs, North Yorkshire County Council, Arts Council England and Harrogate recording studio Active Audio.