Live review: Pete Lawrie

Loving of self and stubbly of chin, Welshman Lawrie makes a bid for the nation’s hearts Upstairs at the Relentless Garage. Here’s hoping his schmaltzy, by-numbers guitar pop doesn’t succeed.

Closing this year’s HMV Next Big Thing gig series is the resolutely MOR Pete Lawrie.

After taking his acoustic guitar into the nattering crowd and getting them to stomp the beat to open his set, his band dives into a puddle-deep song he wrote about working in a petrol station in his native north Wales.

It’s quickly apparent he’s a cookie-cutter guy for the masses – good-looking, fashionable hair and bristly chin, cheesy smile, oozing (a delusional level of) self-belief with slightly hoary vocals and American accent for that catch-all commerical troubadour appeal.

Problem is, he specialises in the kind of insidious sonic platitudes that could sedate a horse – or, more worryingly, just as easily make it under the skin of the nation via the popular airwaves. Is this the best hope we have this year?

By comparison support act Leah Mason’s grooving, gutsy pop-rock riffs were a revelation – a Norah Jones smokiness in her voice rising to a passionate Janis-Joplin-meets-Sheryl-Crow cry on the good-time rock’n’roll of Ride A Pony.