Pizza? Of course. Cider? Yep. Music? Don’t mind if I do. I’m tucking into that final slice of pulled pork and barbecue goodness, and, in the background, the guitar chords are starting up. It’s Sunday night, and that can only mean one thing: ExTunes is back, showcasing the best and brightest of student talent.
The first act is Masters student Frankie Gough, who opens with Sam Smith’s ‘Stay With Me’. She starts quietly, but soon the lyrics are flowing over the audience’s background chatter; the arching melodies build up to a powerful climax, Frankie’s voice does the song complete justice. I’m an absolute sucker for Sam Smith, so it’s a pleasure to hear, although for such emotional music I would have perhaps liked even more punch at times.
A few songs later, we’re treated to Jason Mraz’s ‘I’m Yours’. It’s another classic cover song, and one of my pop favourites, and Frankie delivers a confident rendition. But, far more creativity is shown with a slowed-down version of ‘Valerie’: although I prefer the tempo of the original, Frankie’s performance is lovely, and her experience as an a capella singer shines through when she places perfect emphasis on key emotional lines – “stop making a fool out of me” being the obvious example. Her set finishes with a creative cover of Bieber’s ‘Love Yourself’, and the crowd are quick to show their approval.
extunes is back, showcasing the best and BRIGHTEST of student talent
The second act is Daisy Vaughan, who shows confidence from the very start. The guitar really adds to the performance, and she holds the notes powerfully, with perfect folksy quavering between the syllables. She takes the approach of playing original music, even singing a beautiful song in Spanish, and the range and pace her voice shows is delightful.
‘Firecracker’ is another personal favourite, and from the very first line – “If I was a sailor” – I’m reminded of Katie Melua’s lyrical ‘If You Were a Sailboat’. This is followed by a creative cover of Chris Isaak’s ‘Wicked Game’, and the set finishes with Tracy Chapman’s ‘Fast Car’, which even has the crowd singing along. She’s a real talent, and I’ve heard she’ll be playing at Exeter’s Poltimore Festival in the summer.
The final artist is FreakbyWire, a heavy rock band. It’s not the sort of music you’d expect in a location like this, but it came as a lively change from the acoustics. Deep tones and pulsating drums stretch through their performance, which seemed to be made up of their own creations, and they’ve no problem letting the instruments do the talking. Their preference for distortion sometimes drowns out the singing, but this noisy trio from Okehampton seems very popular with the crowd. It might not be my cup of tea, but FreakbyWire definitely set fire to the Firehouse, bringing the night to an end.