(Pic: Ellwood)
Rob McCulloch / Ellwood / Tom Cartledge

Tonight people, it's the Big Brother Final and frankly we don't give a f**k. While the rest of the British public is watching Reality TV, there's a packed crowd at Late Room living real life!!!

Liverpool's Tom Cartledge looks like he should be fronting a McFly tribute act, but sounds like Bright Eyes, The Auteurs and The Longpigs rolled into one angry dark hearted package. With just an acoustic guitar Cartledge stabs and pounds his guitar as he rattles through an all too brief set. At 19, with 2 albums already behind him and a 3rd on the way, Cartledge is one to look out for, but you feel for the potential to be fully realized he needs to find a band who can bring his songs to life

Ellwood feature ex-members of much fawned upon Manchester band Hanky Park and a drummer who tubthumps for the Australian Pink Floyd band. After a couple of months out of action due to lead guitarist Glen Oddie breaking his wrist, they're back on form as if they never went away. Delivering epic indie-rock ala fellow Mancs The Cardinals and Barfly, the likes of "Stand" and "Stay" have the hallmarks of future classics with the intricate riffs of Oddie underpinning Dave Campbell's melodic soaring vocals. Ellwood take us back to a time Pre-Doherty where the song was king and while they could quite easily be played alongside Embrace or Snow Patrol there's much more going on. With the right producer these guys could be huge!!!

Rob McCulloch was one of Designer Magazine's tips at last years In The City showcases alongside the likes of Dear Eskiimo and Nizlopi and after a year honing his craft he's about to release his debut single proper in a couple of months. Just a couple of months ago McCulloch was banging his acoustic against the wall in a Howard Hughes style breakdown as he tried to write the perfect anthem.

(Pic: Rob McCulloch)

Previous shows McCulloch often looked like a startled rabbit unsure of his own worth while the rest of the crowd watched in amazement, but now there's a bravado, a previously untapped confidence which exudes from the stage. It says a lot that he's dumped the best song to date, "Taking Off With You", from the set for the time being in favour of the new slow burning ballad "Paradise". A cover of The Door's "Roadhouse Blues" is an unexpected but welcome surprise that show his influences span further than the Northwest of England. Ending on the sprawling epic "Let It Go" McCulloch leaves the stage victorious and this is only the beginning...give it a few months when the PR go into hyperbole and the major label deal may just be in the offing

Alex McCann

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