Music review: Centre Stage Final at O2 Academy Leeds

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After months of furious rehearsals, fundraising, knock out heats and lots of planning, the final of the fifth Centre Stage Competition is finally over and we can reveal that the winners of a spot at this years Leeds and Reading Festivals are the electronic/pop duo Girlsondrugs.

Twelve bands took part this year, all raising money for children’s hospice Martin House. The sweltering heat, coupled with the o2 Academy packed with over 700 young music fans, mums and dads and all manner of music industry figures, made for an exciting and vibrant atmosphere.

Oliver Pinder at the Centre Stage Final. Pictures: Phil Weller and Chris Day

Oliver Pinder at the Centre Stage Final. Pictures: Phil Weller and Chris Day

Every single band in the final had clearly worked really hard to bring as many people to the event as possible, as well as all delivering emotional and passionate performances. Often young people are not given credit for some of the positive things they are able to achieve, but this event shows the best of what young musicians and students are capable of. Despite not winning, every band took defeat with breathtaking grace and a sense of camaraderie, and their absolute professionalism throughout the whole evening was a delight to witness. If these bands are the future of our local music scene, then the future is bright!

The event has become somewhat of an institution, and sees young musicians all under 21 battle it out for a chance to win the coveted prize. Among the judges this year were Mike Heaton and Mickey Dale of Embrace, Leeds and Reading booker Jon Mclldowie, and James Brown of Pulled Apart By Horse.

Winning duo Girlsondrugs, are Luke Lount (producer/mixer/writer/) and Kat Mchugh (vocals/writer). They have already started to raise eyebrows locally and online, playing at Beacons Festival and their cover of Arctic Monkeys song ‘Do I Wanna Know’ has had a mind-blowing 70,000 hits online.

Speaking of their win, Luke Lount from the band said: “When they announced GirlsOnDrugs as the winners, We had this moment where we were completely circled by our closest family and friends, who are all going insane with joy with us..That has to be one of the greatest feelings possible.”

He adds: “Centre stage is an amazing competition. It’s very humbling to be surrounded by so much talent. We would encourage any bands to enter, and share an amazing experience with great people.”

I am certain that the future is very bright for Girlsondrugs, they are unique, incredibly talented and have a great attitude.

The competition has uncovered a wealth of young talent this year and has to date raised well over £150,000 for Martin House. The tireless work of fund raiser Sarah Smith from the charity has meant that it is still the most respected and well loved events of its kind, long may it continue!

For more information on the work that this essential fund-raising enables please visit the Martin House website http://www.martinhouse.org.uk

Gig date: July 23

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