Open Mic UK
Live Review

Open Mic UK, Scottish Finals – Concert Hall, Glasgow

Glasgow’s Concert Hall was the venue for yesterday’s Open Mic UK’s Scottish Finals. Around 70 acts took part in three age categories, all looking to move on in the competition. And for the lucky winners, only one round now separates them from the Grand Final at London’s O2 Arena.

I was again present as a member of the judging panel, representing Glasswerk. Along with others from the music industry we scored every act against four criteria and helped to decide the winners. It was no easy task either, with a high standard set from the off.

First up was the under 16 category. All of the twenty or so acts had brought friends and family along for support and around 500 people packed into the large hall, creating quite an atmosphere. One by one the youngsters took to the stage and performed, showing considerable talent and amazing confidence for their age.

Once all of the acts had shown what they could do the scores were added up. Lucy Spraggan, who recently finished second in Grand Final of the sister competition, Live And Unsigned, entertained the audience with a fine short set as they waited for the results.

The six acts who came out on top of the combined scores went through to the next stage, headed by young Emily Middlemass who has real star quality. Just days short of her thirteenth birthday, Emily’s cover of Jessie J’s Price Tag showed both ability and maturity in abundance.

In this age category there were far more girls taking part than boys, and so it was good to see fine performances from Daniel Crawford and Paul Clark rewarded with places in the next round.

After an audience vote two further acts progressed, but many were unfortunately left disappointed. But I’m sure they will all have gained valuable experience from taking part – and of course they will still have time to grow and to improve.

The whole cycle started again after a sound check for the 17 – 22 age category. The Open Mic UK technical crew did a great job all day long of ensuring everyone was in the right place and had everything just so to allow them to perform.

This category was perhaps the tightest of the three, with some decent performances on show and little to differentiate between many of the acts. But again most were to be disappointed as only seven of the twenty or so could go through.

John Irvine, who performed a good original song, and Sara McIver, who demonstrated that she has tremendous stage presence, were among those who can look forward to the next round.

And finally the over 23s had their chance to shine. There was a good mix of cover versions and original songs here, and many of the contestants played instruments rather than using backing tracks.

Once more seven acts were selected to progress to the next stage, Caroline Gilmore, a local singer songwriter, put in an impressive performance and Lyn went through after an unusual cover of the Beatles’ Something. Two hip hop artists just missed out in the audience vote, which was a shame as both had put on high energy demonstrations of their art.

So the dream remains alive for twenty or so of the Scottish hopefuls. They will go on to a Regional Final and hopefully from there to the Grand Final itself. It was a great demonstration of the talent that there is in the country, particularly among the youngest age group.

I was very pleased to have been invited to be a part of the competition and look forward to seeing how the Scottish acts do in the remainder of Open Mic UK. Good luck folks!

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