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Last Updated: Wednesday, 28 April, 2004, 14:18 GMT 15:18 UK
Live in the city with Lamacq
By Greg McKevitt
BBC News Online

Rock fans in Belfast enjoyed a taste of two hotly-tipped new bands as part of the BBC's Music Live festival.

Introduced by DJ Steve Lamacq, Razorlight and the Cribs played at the Limelight on Tuesday, for his Lamacq in the City show on BBC digital station 6 Music.

Razorlight took a break from recording their debut album
From Ash to Oasis, many new bands have passed through the intimate venue before going on to greater things.

The DJ has retained his enthusiasm for emerging talent, and he says Lamacq in the City allows him to pick out the cream of the new music crop on a single bill.

"At first I thought it was a way to get me out of the office - I thought I must have done something wrong," he said.

"We're doing bands who wouldn't necessarily get on Radio 1 or anywhere else, but who we think would be popular with our audience and may go on to do something reasonably big in the future."

Acts like Franz Ferdinand and Keane have performed at previous events before achieving mainstream chart success.

"I don't want to pick bands purely on the fact that there's a bit of hype about them. Certainly when we did Franz Ferdinand, there wasn't any hype about them at all.

"It's not necessarily about being the hippest band of the moment, but rather it's bands that show signs of being music fans in their own right."

Razorlight certainly come with a reputation, and their preening frontman Johnny Borrell's stage moves were a well-worn mixture of arrogance and nervous energy, even if he chose to wear what appeared to be a dressing gown.

The half-London, half-Swedish combo have been making a big noise since they emerged late last year, and they played a set full of short songs which Lamacq compares to 1970s New York art rockers Television.

The Cribs are three brothers who, like Razorlight, have been dubbed a British version of the Strokes.

However, Lamacq cites more unlikely source elements - the hazily remembered early 1990s Irish bands Sultans of Ping FC and the Frank and Walters.

"They are the nearest thing to a Cork band, except they come from Wakefield," he said.

"It's just a massive coincidence."

Steve Lamacq introducing one of the bands
One of the great things about this is you come out, meet a few people, exchange contact details, and hopefully something will come out of it
Steve Lamacq
Both groups were given a warm reception for their short sets at the Limelight.

Lamacq says the show gives bands a chance to play Belfast at an early stage in their careers.

"No way would a major record label get Razorlight out of the studio where they are recording their debut album and get them to play a gig in Belfast, but if we phone up, they will come," he said.

"That's the good thing about Music Live in general, there's gigs happening which wouldn't have otherwise happened.

"We just thought we would put the two bands together - both could be about to break and they've got records coming out."

Belfast is often regarded as a peripheral city on the gigging circuit, but Lamacq says he has received a number of quality demo tapes from local musicians.

"I've picked up various demos along the way over the past three days, so I'll be taking them back with me," he said.

He says he has heard some quality material from local acts, including Guided, Torgas Valley Reds and the Debonaires, who were a support band at Tuesday's gig.

The Cribs
The Cribs are three brothers from Wakefield
"One of the great things about this is you come out, meet a few people, exchange contact details, and hopefully something will come out of it."

Lamacq says bands from Northern Ireland are not alone in finding it difficult to gain wider exposure.

"I found when I worked in Harlow, which is 15 miles from London, it was as difficult to get an A&R man there as it would be to come to Northern Ireland," he said.

"Apart from Glasgow or Manchester, no-one wants to travel out of town."

He says he is as enthusiastic as ever about seeing new bands, comparing it to supporting a football team.

"I've seen it all before, I've been to Wembley before with Colchester United, but every season there's something different and it's still as exciting," he said.

"I would swap you five CDs out of my collection for five demos - there could be gold in there."

The BBC Music Live festival is running throughout Northern Ireland until 3 May, with more than 100 concerts across all genres of music, most of them with free admission.

Festival to cast off with floating stage
26 Mar 04  |  Northern Ireland
Sound of 2004: Razorlight
06 Jan 04  |  Entertainment
Lamacq's fan's eye view
04 Oct 00  |  Entertainment


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