Juan Zelada + Benjamin Owen + Joe Karchud, O2 Academy 3, Birmingham 19/11/12

Joe Karchud
I really had no idea what to expect as I walked into the O2 Academy 3. What unfolded was a dazzling performance from Madrid’s Juan Zelada and probably the best two support acts I’ve seen in some time. First on stage tonight was Joe Karchud and his band. Usually playing as a nine piece this stripped down show showcased Joe’s undoubted talent. The songs were very well crafted, with heartfelt and meaningful lyrics which where all topped off by Joe’s brilliant voice. Songs ‘Kids of the Bonfire’ and the personal ‘Elle’s Song’ proved that this guy is one to watch.
Benjamin Owen
Next under the lights was Benjamin Owen. Again a singer /songwriter with strong echoes of Damian Rice, this guy appears to have talent in abundance. Appearing shoeless with just his guitar, the set flowed effortlessly, Benjamin’s voice complimenting the songs melodies perfectly. The closing song of the set had Benjamin with the guitar laid flat on his lap, playing it like a drum. Another quality act to keep your eyes on.
Juan Zelada
Then, Juan Zelada took to the stage, a character oozing confidence; he burst into the opening track like his life depended on this performance. The excitement in the crowd seemed to increase tenfold as a range of ages rarely seen at gigs, started the party with the Madrid born crooner. Juan seems to have been rolled into the music world onboard a vehicle playing the best of 80’s male solo artists. It appears this guy has been influenced by the best. Shades of Sting and Huey Lewis appear in the songs, and the piano-led tracks have the swagger and quality of Harry Connick Jnr in his prime. There’s also an element of Michael Buble and Jack Johnson from recent times. This guy really means business and performs his songs with so much energy and enthusiasm. The crowd responded with aplomb, with a little jazz hip shaking thrown in.
Juan Zelada
‘Breakfast in Spitalfields’ had the crowd’s vocal chords stretched to the max. ‘The Blues Remain’ also sent the now hysterical audience into further frenzy. One particular lady was using the whole of the venue as her own personal dance floor. Amongst the flurry of middle aged women, Zelada was causing temporary insanity. To add to it all a film crew were milling around the crowd, filming the 2013 European Border Breakers Award winner for Dutch TV.
Juan Zelada
The encore consisted of a strange cover of ‘Hysteria’ by Muse which just about worked and ‘Don’t You Hold Me Down’, a Ray Charles style track which again caused the frenzy suggested in the previous song. Juan’s performance and likeability put together with the quality of his songs should see this guy go far.  To quote the lady standing next to me, “Why isn’t he a Superstar?”
Photographs by Jonathan Morgan.

Dave Holyhead

Huge fan of real music both old and new. Favourites include, Led Zep, Black Sabbath, Pearl Jam, The Smiths, The Stone Roses, The Courtneeners, Kasabian and anything inbetween that can bring joy to my ears.
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Dave Holyhead

Huge fan of real music both old and new. Favourites include, Led Zep, Black Sabbath, Pearl Jam, The Smiths, The Stone Roses, The Courtneeners, Kasabian and anything inbetween that can bring joy to my ears.

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