Who: Wave Pictures, Lisa Mitchell, The Miserable Rich Where: The Borderline, London When: 10th February Foregoing the appeal of an evening in the company of Sky Sports' and Arsenal vs Livepool in the pub, I took myself along to the newly re-vamped Borderline which I found surprisingly full so early on. Obviously those in attendance were as eager as I was to hear just who XFM and HMV think are set to be the Next Big Thing for 2010.
First up to the plate were Brighton's The Miserable Rich. Shuffling on stage, red wine in hand, the band went through a short set of tight-knit, if slightly dramatic, tracks that centred almost entirely around substance abuse. Their sound was a little at odds with what you might expect to come across in The Borderline. Most of my Borderline experiences have involved ludicrous drunken indie disco on sticky floors at 2am. This is not the sort of vibe served up by The Miserable Rich. Their set was all a little too polished, too grand sounding. There's no dirty blues or sweaty rock on show, instead you get string laden songs and a falsetto vocal. This is not necessarily a bad thing, just something that might be better placed on the bill in more refined surroundings. Either way it was still clear that they have some decent tracks up their sleeves -'Pisshead' pretty much summed up the atmosphere in the venue with the chorus of "I'll feel much better when I've had a drink" and new single 'Somershill' is catchy enough to suggest there's plenty to come from The Miserable Rich in 2010.
Up next was Lisa Mitchell. Now, as far as I was concerned, Lisa Mitchell was married to Grant and subsequently had it away with his brother Phil one drunken night in the Queen Vic. Given this I was intrigued and a little concerned to see that she was being tipped as one of the Next Big Things... Thankfully, when the REAL Lisa Mitchell took to the stage she was not a thirty something character from Eastenders, instead she's a 19 year old singer/songwriter from Australia (via England). Kicking off her set with a tender and rather lovely version of 'Neapolitan Dream', led to some head-scratching... Where did I know this song from? After some post-gig Google action, it turns out it's the soundtrack of Surf laundry powder's current ad campaign. Following 'Neapolitan Dream' she played half an hour or so of really tender, tuneful and catchy songs that sounded a little like Martha Wainwright at times and a lot like Feist at others. Probably the other standout track of the set was 'Coin Laundry' where she put down her acoustic guitar and concentrated only on her vocal performance. This captivated The Borderline with even the determined few conversationalists at the back shutting the fuck up and taking note for a couple of minutes. It would seem that in 2010 Lisa Mitchell has brighter things to look forward to than pulling pints in the Queen Vic.
After a rousing introduction from XFM's John Kennedy that was more akin to a Big Fight Night than Next Big Thing night, The Wave Pictures took to the stage to rousing applause. The first couple of tracks that followed were slightly underwhelming being played acoustically, however, three songs in and the (top) shirt came off and the guitar was plugged in. This induced a notable change in atmosphere. All of a sudden there was an air of anticipation, that something was about to go off. The incendiary device turned out to be David Tattersall's electric guitar. As soon as it was put into action there was a noticeable step up in energy and all round performance. It has to be said that he can really knock out a solo and did so throughout the rest of the set. The set included many tracks from their excellent 'Instant Coffee Baby' album. Highlights of the set came in the form of 'I Love You Like A Madman,' 'Avacado Baby' and 'Instant Coffee Baby' all of which, of course, included ace lyrics and some impressive fretwork. As good as his guitar solos were The Wave Pictures' real strength comes from their Modern Lovers-esque sound and wonderful storytelling lyrics, both of which transfer brilliantly to their live performance. As the set drew to a close, we witnessed a first as Tattersall completely lost the plot and forgot his lyrics, not once but twice in the same song leading to a slightly red-faced apology - "Sorry, Ladies and Gentlemen, what you're witnessing is a first from the Next Big Things, I have forgotten my words"... Not that anyone in the crowd minded one jot as the band kicked in with "One that I think I can remember the words to" which came in the shape of a storming version of 'Friday Night In Loughborough'. As the crowd filtered out of The Borderline, news came in that Sky Sports' big game had provided just the one goal and little other excitement, so it became clear that spending 90 minutes in the company of XFM's 'Next Big Things' was definitely the right decision and a much more enjoyable way of spending a Wednesday night.