Tough task for judges at Simply Acoustic 2015 final

Simply Acoustic winner: Sacred Nations
Simply Acoustic winner: Sacred Nations
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Sunday’s final of Simply Acoustic 2015 at the Maids Head in Lynn went down to the wire – and who would envy the judging panel?

With top quality acts on show they faced a difficult task before deciding that Sacred Nations and Pirate Joe would take the honours.

Simply Acoustic winner: Pirate Joe

Simply Acoustic winner: Pirate Joe

Here, Jon Seymour looks back on an eventful musical session:

After three heats, it all came down to this. Six acts battling for two places at this year’s Christmas lights switch-on in Lynn town centre.

The standard again has been exceptionally high, and as a member of the judging panel I was both dreading and looking forward to it in equal measure.

Family trio Falling From Trees were the first act to take up their instruments. They’re a very lively act and their song choice was upbeat for the most part. They play their own material as well as injecting a few covers into the set. Rebecca’s vocals are very strong, and she has a distinctive vibrato, which admittedly is not to everyone’s taste, but it’s a big part of the band and it gives them a sound that stands out.

Simon Benefer had the job of following on, and while he’s known for his instrumental talents in Kingdom Keys and Jessie’s Ghost, he often sings as part of a harmony or performs back-up vocals. It’s not until you hear him on his own that you realise just how good he is. His set consisted of covers performed with clinical precision. Simon is one of the most technically proficient musicians around, and he has a voice to back it up.

Duo Phoebe and Jay were up next, and their set of original songs and covers kept things going along nicely. Phoebe’s voice is very big, which can be a bit of a shock after hearing her speak. When they dropped into their heat at the last minute, they’d had no time to prepare, but tonight they were polished, rehearsed and we heard a few more harmonies. Their own material is also very good.

Sacred Nations were number four on the bill, and the transformation that Cameron and Edward have gone through with the appearance of a couple of new musicians to work with is astounding. Tonight they were a three piece, with guitarist Dylan taking a break, but together with Frazer on drums they delivered a set of covers with a couple of originals thrown in. There’s an air of confidence about them that wasn’t there before.

The penultimate act came in the shape of energetic folk/punk duo Breaking Sirens. Tim and Mark have a great attitude to music in that they value original material, and don’t care whether you like them or not. They do what they like, and if you like it that’s great, and if you don’t, well that’s fine too. They’re not going to change either. Their attitude and interaction can divide the crowd at times, as not everyone gets it, but they’re a lot of fun nonetheless.

Closing the show was Pirate Joe. Once again we were treated to a performance that was as much visual as musical. Joe is mesmerising to watch and his antics are zany at times. He also knows how to work a crowd, and keep them entertained. Again, not everyone gets it and there are those that don’t quite know whether or not to take him seriously. His own material is thought provoking though and he has the ability to brighten even the darkest day.

This was one of the hardest events that any of the panel had ever judged. Not only that, but there was no run away clear winner so it really was anyone’s race.

Ultimately it was Sacred Nations and Pirate Joe that shared the honours, and they will undoubtedly add a great deal to the festive switching-on ceremony in Lynn on Sunday, November 22. Make sure you come and see them.