Last year I wrote a massive review for Project Red which was an event ran by my friends for the mental health charity Mind and for their Music BTEC coursework assessment. This year the current intake of BTEC Music students also ran an event on 29th March, entitled Mode V. Mode V consisted of 5 different performers showing off what they know about setting up, performing and taking the various pieces of equipment down. This new form of assessment also means that this year there were only 3 songs per performer and no ensembles. So, without further or do onto this small review of some top performances!
To kick the whole event off this year was Ellie Crane who is a very talented singer and guitarist who performed on stage for the very first time. She is no stranger to stage, having taken performing arts as a subject but showed off a completely different talent throughout the evening. Her first song was Don’t Know Why by Nora Jones which kicked off the whole event beautifully. She did sound slightly nervous to start out with but as soon as the song got going Ellie settled down into her comfort zone. With a slow tempo with added elements of finesse and her own spin on the track she made it her own. For her second song, she had chosen Clown by Emeli Sande which really suited her vocal range and the tone of her voice. Ellie hit every note with precision and made it seem personal to her. this deep and meaningful track made the audience simply watch in awe at her. for her final track, however, she sang and played Holes by Passenger. Being the lover of Passenger that I am I absolutely loved it! Ellie sped the song up slightly to suit her vocals which really worked well with the whole persona she was channelling throughout her whole set. It was smoothly played and was the perfect track to end her whole performance with giving her overall performance a sweet and organised feel to it all.
Next up after Ellie was the guitarist Mathew Bishop who has been regularly performing at school performances in the band Empire. Taking to the stage for the first time alone he kicked off his set with Toxicity by System of a Down with a musical accompaniment. This song really showed off his skilful guitar playing and use of the foot pedal which he used throughout the song. For most of the song, while I was taking photos, I thought that it was the real version of the song and didn’t realise he was playing. It genuinely sounded like a recording it was that in time. Following on from this track was Swing Life Away by Rise Against which was a more chilled out and relaxed track to perform after the strain of performing a System of a Down song. He was insanely good at playing this song with it showing his smoother style of playing and clean transitions between each note he played. What topped it all off was the solo section of the song which really showed off Matthews flair. To finish off his set he ended with Cryin’ by Joe Satriani which as many of you know is a high note and high demand track. This really exposed a whole different skill set of Matthews that I would happily listen to all day. It was the perfect song to end his style set off with and really got the audience to appreciate the talent he has that little bit more rather than hiding away in a band.
Following on from the guitarist was a saxophone player called Marcus James who has been playing for over 7 years at a variety of venues and in various ensembles. He kicked off his set with a track everybody knows and most people love, Live an Let Die by Guns and Roses! It sounded like the original and as if Marcus was just pretending to play his instrument. But when it got down to the higher notes or the more complex parts of the track you were suddenly made to realise that he was in fact playing and playing well. His next track was something a little bit more chilled out Take 5 by Dave Brubeck Quartet. Marcus skilfully played this track with clear practice and so much love for the saxophone itself. He was at one with the music walking and swaying all around the stage making it difficult to keep track with what he was doing at some points. This relaxed state that he was in made it so that he was at one with the music and just doing what he loved. But to top it all off his last chosen track was to do improvisation. He literally had a repetitive backing track and did what he loved for 4 minutes. The music he was making sounded classic and full of scales which only made it sound more and more like a professional jazz based saxophone player. He was creating some foot tapping beats that showed off all the flair he had left to show off. He couldn’t have finished his set on a higher note, well maybe but I don’t really listen to that music sax if I’m honest.
The fourth performer of the night was Fraser Thompson who is the bassist for the band empire. He doesn’t really get his chance to shine much being the typical bass player and all that. So, to kick off his performances he played Aeroplane by Red Hot Chilli Peppers with the help of his friend Matthew Briton who played the drums. This track really showed off what he loves doing as he really got into it moving around the stage a little bit every now and then. It was an easy and steady bass line to play and perform which I think really suited him and showed the audience his insane hand movements. Little did I or anybody else know these hand movements would continue getting more and more insanely complex with his next track Rio Funk by Lee Ritenour. This had a shaky start due to the sheer complexity of the tune itself but he had insane time keeping managing to keep in time with the backing track he had at points. However, I do feel that this song was way too fast for him to keep up with at certain points but hey go big or go home! To end his whole set, he played Colorado Bulldog by Mr. Big which was absolutely insane. He was straight on it from the word go but again I feel this track was way too complex for his skill set to keep up with. He gave it a good go and I think it was an insane track to end on.
To wrap up the whole evening the guitarist and singer Dave Gibbs was the last on stage to perform his three songs. He is the front man and lead vocals for the band Empire and is in no way shape or form a stranger to performing. However, this was his first time performing solo and my my my did he do a fabulous job. He kicked it all off with Grade 8 by Ed Sheeran which as soon as he said it was a hit with the audience. He played his guitar and sang the song beautifully showcasing his serious vocal range and dramatically played guitar skills right from the start. He even kept up with Ed Sheeran’s well known fast vocal skills which is a talent all by itself in my eyes. Dave’s second song was Gravity by John Mayer which was smooth and fluent throughout. he showed he could be daintily and careful with the way he plays and showed off that he can do more chilled-out tunes. However, this chilled out and relaxed vibe didn’t last long as for the last track he put down his guitar and sang his lungs out performing Feeling Good by Michael Buble. This absolute classic of a track was the perfect way to end the whole event showing how powerful his vocals really are. He pumped this song full of emotional and vocal power that I’ve never seen before from him. what topped the whole song off in the end was his stage presents. After the instrumental in the song he kicked the mic stand and sang his heart out. Making his notes even more dramatic and creating even more of a scene than he already was. Overall, he definitely gets points of style.
Overall you could definitely tell that this event was 6 months in the making. Every artist and performer put their heart and soul into every song they performed. The event couldn’t have run any smoother in my eyes and I will be sad to say that this will be the last review of any of MOCS BTEC Music student performances. Sad I know but it couldn’t have been better.
All images photographed by Charlie Hall.