Discovery 2 (Jadan Lee, Etta Smith, Laid Blak, The Leano) - AAA, London (31/03/2011)
Laura Bruneau | Tuesday, 26 April 2011
It's all about recognising talent through the label propaganda. If you work in the music industry and want to make a buck, then an artist having label backing might mean something, if you don't then it means nothing. Talent always cuts through the hype and that's what we saw when we took ourselves along to another instalment of the upcoming artists showcase, Discovery 2 in High Street Kensington.
First up was Jadan Lee who sounded not dissimilar to a black Daniel Bedingfield with the occasional nod to the high range vocals and breathy grunts of Michael Jackson. When the Jackson comparisons appeared however, they were more of a weak homage than anything approaching the excitement of the original. Jaden's best track of the night was a cover of a Philip Bailey (Earth Wind & Fire) ballad.
By far the most impressive act of the night, musically at least, was Etta Smith. Being a songwriter, who has written for the likes of Pixie Lott, and keyboardist along with possessing a powerful set of vocal chords, Etta's all round musical talent was evident onstage.
She confessed to the audience that her band had only just been put together and so they only had a limited number of songs in their repertoire. Well, the phrase quality over quantity could not have been more appropriate. They were tight and disciplined and knocked the polished poise of Jadan Lee out of the water.
From the sublime to the ridiculous then… Following Etta Smith was the Bristol-based reggae/dub outfit Laid Blak. More of a comedic than a musical act, one of their MCs appeared to be dressed as a modern day pirate, complete with a diamante studded skull and crossbones belt over his kilt and swashbuckling boots.
Sometimes dancehall, sometimes ska, sometimes a bizarre mix and match of different styles and genres, Laid Blak lacked definition and a sense of clarity in their music. Their keyboard player however, showed real, almost virtuosic, skill, especially on the ska tunes and the lead vocalist had a strong voice and a solid stage presence. Laid Blak are worth seeing for the performance, mad and bizarre, it would be unthinkable to see them play and not be left with a smile on your face.
Last to take to the stage was The Leano, a self-styled hippy hip-hop MC who also does outreach work in prisons and musical workshops alongside his onstage performance. Despite the poor sound engineering obscuring the levels, especially on the back up vocals, the intimate feel of the set-up shone through and allowed interaction with the audience to guide the show.
Case in point was the last song of the night, where The Leano free-styled, based on audience suggestions, about Arnold Schwarzenegger fighting alongside Bananaman in Libya; and who could ask for more than that on a Thursday night?