Opening up the evening's proceedings are fellow Boltonians The Jade Assembly, a band with a dedicated following of their own "The Jade Army", some of whom managed to beat the rush for tickets for this venue that is smaller than the places they headline of their own accord. From the moment they crash into opening song Show Me The Sun to their glorious set-closing Colossal, they demonstrate that they're a band with an intuitive knack of writing huge anthemic songs with big soaring heartfelt choruses delivered with real feeling by their frontman John Foster that define their sound without the need to rely on meaningless platitude or simply recycling the same ideas. Their next single Got My Star, out in early October, is the highlight from a band that might not possess the street cool of the other two acts, but who it's impossible not to warm to.
Next up are Devon four-piece Seven Cities, a band with only one release Troubled Mind to their name so far, but one clearly with a future mapped out for them given this high profile support slot. They trade in songs full of big soaring guitar riffs tempered by moments of contradictory melody and harmonic backing vocals that delight an inquisitive and curious crowd to whom they're mostly a new discovery. They already possess the look, the rock star poses and posturing that will immediately make them appeal, but, more importantly, their songs have the meat and bones to back this up, in particular Hit Me Now, surely a breakthrough single in the making, and Devil You Know. A powerful vibrant live band that know just how far they can push their boundaries, they leave us with the impression we're going to hear a lot more about them.
The night is all about Jordan Allen though. It's been a long slog for him and his band to get to this point, about to announce a big UK headline tour of their own that should see them escape from the now obligatory two-year support slot cycle that any breaking band has to go through now to prove their worth and endurance and become the stars of the show in their own right. It's a very different Jordan who announced himself to the local scene three years ago as he's built a band around him that matches his own talent and ambition and put together a twelve-song set tonight that seems set to form the basis of a memorable debut album at some point down the line.
The two new songs tonight - Without Any Clothes and Talk About It - demonstrate progression in the songwriting and an immediacy to them that you need in these days of ever shortening attention spans without compromising that dry witty social observation that characterised Jordan's earlier work. Buoyed by the confidence of an ecstatic reaction - and there are people here who can recite every word to every song as easily as they can their own name, address and date of birth - this is a celebration of a moment in a room that's got so hot the ceiling is dripping down upon us that we might never get to witness again as the big concert halls of the land beckon.
There's an effervescent energy to everything that Jordan, Danny, Kieran and Nathan do that's catching and takes the crowd with it. Whether it's Imperial Leather Drama or 110 Ways To Make Things Better from the recent Livin' La Vida Bolton EP or the beefed-up early tracks Too Much Too Soon and Set In Stone that refuse to be bullied by the new kids on the block, there's an urgency, a thrill and a dynamism to everything they do. As they try to start Rosie, effectively a b-side but a song that's too good and makes too strong a connection to stay that way, it's taken away from them by the crowd and sung back to them with a gusto of a crowd many times bigger than this. That's the fate that awaits the four of them now as they embark on the next exciting step of their journey. At the end the beaming smiles on their faces are only matched by the hundred or so sweaty faces in front of them.
Jordan Allen's official website can be found here and he is on Facebook and Twitter.
Seven Cities' website can be found here and they are on Facebook and Twitter.
The Jade Assembly's website can be found here. They are also on Facebook and Twitter.