Barely one bar into the first performance at the inaugural PopSoc event this year it became apparent – these sets were simply being performed for the pure love of music.
A pared-back stage, flanked by a few guitars with an unassuming mic front and centre was all that was needed for the talent on show. The audience, always supportive, watched occasionally reserved introductions giving way to displays of musicianship that commanded attention. Warm acoustic covers and lo-fi groups created an atmosphere that welcomed the brilliant original material interspersed throughout.
As is regular at Eton concerts, the variety of music performed spanned many decades and genres. A raw rendition of the Stones’ classic Wild Horses rubbed shoulders with the streaming sleeper hit that is What Once Was by Her’s. Voices relishing the task of filling the Parry Hall rose to it with minimal backing and were even more striking for it.
Onto the original material, which for all the liberal confidence and skill it demanded might have been covers from any chart-topping artist. Tunes covering grief, teenage angst, love; you name it, they wrote it. To sing to any audience is hard, and these writers deftly combined stage presence with self-belief to give the crowd seriously good debuts of their own stuff. The only qualm I had was that I couldn’t stream it later.
The whole evening was a dazzling testament to the sheer talent among the boys at the College. Friends watched friends and family watched family light up an otherwise gloomy Friday 22 November with song – a flying success of a first night.