First glorious battle shows talent to come in West Norfolk’s Battle of the Bands

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The first heat of the solo/duo Battle of the Bands competition saw young talent and a competition veteran progressing to the next round on Sunday.

Entertaining the crowds at Dr Thirsty’s in Lynn, the solo/duo competition is running alongside the main Battle of the Bands, with a slot on the main Festival Too stage on offer to the act that wins in this one.

Getting things underway fell to Neal Durose, a very accomplished singer with a simplistic approach and a no-nonsense style.

There were a few nerves early on, but they were soon dealt with, and once Neal hit his stride everything flowed nicely.

Next to take the spotlight was Katie Mercer, another very adept musician, having only made the transition from open mic nights to fully fledged performances in the last year, and when she got going, there was no stopping her.

Last year’s winner, CJ Hatt, took the third slot on the bill. There’s a change to the prize this year, so he was invited to enter again. He’s a born performer, with a gift of the gab, and plays only the music he personally loves. There were some interesting song choices too.

Now the competition moved into new territory. For the first time ever, there were a couple of acts on the bill singing along to backing tracks.

This was completely alien to the judges, but Skye and Sophie, aged 15 and 16, made the audience sit up and take notice. They performed with a wisdom far beyond their years, even playing a song written by themselves, and their harmonies were pitch perfect.

Finally, it fell to Kerri-Louise, who I have to say is a real diva. Her voice is just immense, and she wasn’t afraid to tackle some very big songs.

The judges had the hardest task in choosing just two acts such was the diversity and quality this year.

It was CJ Hatt, along with Skye and Sophie who eventually took the two slots to progress.

The scheduled Saturday night heat at Downham Market Club did not go ahead.