Vagabond, Bush Hall, August 6
WITH their singer's fledgling relationship with woman of the moment Alesha Dixon, it was inevitable that Vagabond would rustle up some hype, but their recent stint supporting The Script, around the corner at the Empire, has done them more good than a thousand Heat columns.
Tonight's a sell-out, with teenage girls flocked to the front, families and deserted boyfriends in the middle and Alesha and entourage at the back. For a band with just two singles under their belt, the atmosphere's electric - and when singer Alex Vargas takes to the stage, it becomes clear why. A pair of devastatingly dark eyes set against killer cheek bones and striking, curly hair, he needs only to blink to set every woman in the building screaming.
They're known for their punchy, soul tinged anthems, so set opener I Said Hello seems strangely down-beat - and if Vargas hadn't bent over to reveal a glimpse of boxer short, the atmosphere might have belly flopped - but things are swiftly saved by an early outing for current single Don't Wanna Run No More, which prompts the hazy glow of mobile phones in the air.
The latest product of pop powerhouse Xenomania, Vargas met his five band mates in the studio where they were working as session musicians. They look like factory-made indie boys, decked out in checked shirts and skinny jeans, and it's clear who's in charge – Vargas does the talking, the posing and the strutting, and looks like he was born doing it.
Highlights include album track I Know A Girl, debut single Sweat (Until The Morning) and I Hope You Know Better, a rock/soul triumph that sees the whole band get stuck in. They've been likened to Simply Red, and have their roots in a similarly smooth, soul fusion, but it's when the guitars are cranked up that they're in their element – as proven by final song I've Been Wanting You. A brilliant mash up of synth strings, and an anthemic “woah-oh-oh” chorus, it's the best track on their album, set for release on Monday.
A great gig from a band who tick all the boxes - they're everything pop music is supposed to be about. They're doing something a bit different, injecting life into tried and tested formulas and proving that music can be interesting and still make girls scream.