When N’famady Kouyaté was announced as the winner of this year’s Glastonbury Festival Emerging Talent Competition, a nod of approval was seen across the assembled crowd at Pilton Working Men’s Club.
The judges agreed with us all! That Cardiff via Guinea based N’famady Kouyate’s exciting take on West African music was the standout act.
Breathtaking musicianship, engaging personality, exciting sound, tight as you like band. He had it all across his two songs. We didn’t want his short two song set to end.
And thanks to the judging panel we will get to see more from N’famady, at a main stage at the festival, which was part of his prize, along with a £5,000 PRS development prize.
But that’s not to say the other eight shortlisted final acts that played were poor. Far from it. To get to this stage of the competition an act has to be already at an incredibly high standard and this year was no exception.
All earn a slot at a festival venue this year.
Other exceptional performances were from Cork based The Love Buzz, dressed from the 1970s but echoing the best of 1980s and 1990s indie and alternative rock, particularly Pavement and Weezer. They had some of the best tunes on the night, especially their second track Sing Sing.
Singer Eva’s crowd work was also exceptional, with a strong second song and engaging chat.
Another favourite act of mine was Ezra Williams, a short lister from 2022 who was unable to attend last year’s event. Great voice backed by shuffling indie rock, reminiscent of American Analog Set. Superb.
Prima Queen were another act to put in a great performance, which is understandable as they have recently supported Wet Leg, one of the sensations at last year’s Festival on the Park stage. The songs are catchy and their crowd work exemplary.
Their singer’s admission that she is from nearby Bristol went down well too with this largely local crowd.
Prima Queen’s set earned them one of two runners up places and a £2,500 PRS development prize.
The other runner up was aggressive europop act VLURE. The Glasgow band’s generic, topless rock cliché show, including walking into the crowd and posturing on monitors looks far more suited to a large festival crowd rather than a small village working men’s club audience. The judges clearly saw enough to suggest they could easily handle a far larger stage.
Another who misjudged the crowd a little was rapper FFSYTHO?! She could be well suited to a Silver Hayes dance and club venue at the Festival but a main stage slot may be too soon for her. Whether it was nerves or ego she came across as a little intimidating rather than engaging, which the judges may well have picked up on with their final selection.
Elsewhere, Naomi Kimpenu is another to showcase one of the best voices on the night, especially backed by a perfect string quartet.
And opener Cordelia Gartside was also exceptional, blending dream pop with Pixies-esque ‘quiet loud’ songs.
It was one of the most eclectic line ups I can remember for some time and N’famady’s victory made the night even better. He won’t be emerging for long as the major stages await him.
Words and pictures by Joe Lepper, Glastonbury ETC long list judge