LIVE REVIEW: Conor Maynard, o2 Academy 2 (Sheffield), 26.04.12

The excitement in the  o2 Academy 2 can barely been contained. With doors opening at 7pm, the nearly all female audience (with an average age of 15) are crammed against the railings screaming their hearts out at every utterance of ‘Britian’s Bieber’ Conor Maynard. With DJ Manny Norte on hand to whip up a frenzy, his excitable presence and Twitter interaction help control the growing hysteria.

Before the Brighton boy bounds on stage, four piece Rascals bounce on stage, effortlessly winning over the willing audience with their irrepressible energy and more than impressive tunes. Having first dabbled with fame back in 2007, the former trio (Big Shizz, Tempz and Merkz) have recruited a fourth member, Kay Willz, and upped their game. The time out has reaped the rewards, with the boys relaxed on stage and the girls eating their every word. If tonight’s show is anything to go by, Rascals could easily be the best new boyband on the block.

With almost three quarters of an hour between sets, the ecstatic girls barely move for fear of losing their space. Norte deals dutifully with requests, ensuring that the time flies by.

As soon as Maynard’s band takes their place, the camera phones are held high and screams are more than worthy of One Direction at the Motorpoint Arena. Maynard clearly relishes the attention and launches into his set without hesitation, bouncing off the audience’s energy and giving ten-fold back.

Maynard is no Bieber. He may be a teen star discovered on YouTube by a well-respected and established r’n’b star, but that is as far as the comparison goes. Far from a slick, over styled performer, Brighton’s finest offers an honest, humble, low key performance that oozes ability.

With a subtle cover of Drake’s “Marvin’s Room” kicking off a flurry of ballads mid set, Maynard is determined to prove there is more to him than boy next door good looks and well produced tracks. Emotional delivery and an impressive tone tug all the right strings, but the energy explodes as Maynard breaks back into Guetta-esque dance mode.

Closing with debut single, the slick, addictive “Can’t Say No”, Maynard leaves his audience wanting more, but fails to deliver an encore. Luckily his loyal fans are full of love and shrug off their disappointment as they head to the merch stand to spend their pennies on a T-Shirt or two to remember the night.

Rating: 3.5/5
Reviewer: Jeremy Williams

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