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Alex Gardner Peterborough Embankment 18th July (LIVE REVIEW)

Tuesday, 20 July 2010 Written by Ginny Bullmore

It wasn't an Alex Gardner show I went to see. I was dragged along (admittedly not entirely reluctantly) to watch JLS on tour for my little brother's birthday, and Alex Gardner happened to be one of the support acts. Beforehand, I wasn't overly excited about his performance - I'd only really heard the single 'I'm Not Mad', and it was one of those songs that never really struck a chord with me, not seeming particularly memorable or special. However from the moment Gardner and his band came onstage, it became apparent they were going to be a pretty special support act.

They were introduced as having supported Whitney Houston, Leona Lewis and (not as impressively) Scouting For Girls. They'd supported Leona and Whitney? They're not exactly singers to my personal taste, but there's no denying they're huge names in the music world.

Gardner swaggered onstage looking like a kind of indie Robert Pattinson, managing to appear both supremely confident yet exciteable at the same time. It's fair to say that right at that moment none of the girls - or women - standing near me appeared particularly concerned with the songs he was going to play. However that soon changed. Gardner's sound is very Paolo Nutini, and although I'm sure that comparison is going to be chucked around nonstop when he gathers more fame, it doesn't make it any less true.

The music is acoustic soul, with some of the songs, 'I Wanna Be With Her,' in particular, even sounding a little like Razorlight with their choppy, addictive guitar. Every song seemed to be over far too quickly. It's not just Gardner's voice, his looks, or his fantastic band that grab attention, though. He has fantastic stage presence, which perhaps stems from the fact he knows how talented he is, and which commands the ears and eyes of every audience member - whether it's their 'type of music' or not. He's the type of performer who doesn't seem to need to try to be impressive or to stand out. Gardner is no wannabe Nutini. In fact, much as I love Paolo, Gardner perhaps sounds a little more instantly authentic. The guitar riffs on 'Yesterday's News' make it one of the standout tracks from the set for me, along with 'I Wanna Be With Her,' but every song was brilliant in its own way, all different in style yet kept consistent by Alex's unwaveringly good voice. some of the notes he managed to hit and sustain with what appeared to be incredible ease were spine-tingling.

It would seem that Alex Gardner has a hugely bright future ahead of him, and he definitely lit up the stage as the sun went down on Peterborough Embankment. It's a refreshing, exciting sound that's both new yet authentic, familiar and brand new. I can already predict a wave of copy-cat boys with guitars coming along in the wake of his first album, but it's a nice feeling to know that you've already seen the real deal. His second single comes out in September, and hopefully will prompt the success he needs to come out from the wing of other superstars and become one himself.

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