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The future is bright for city band The Optimists

By Lincolnshire Echo  |  Posted: September 13, 2012

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I haven't seen a single episode of The X Factor this year – but let me try guess what's happened so far.

Louis Walsh fawned over a novelty act, Gary Barlow overused the word "fantastic", and someone probably sang Adele to a standing ovation.

Am I right?

I have no problem with this show if it uncovers genuine talent, like Lincolnshire's own Ella Henderson, but more often than not it's merely a banal karaoke contest lacking any creativity or originality.

That's why I'm urging all We're All Ears readers to get behind The Optimists – two Lincoln lads who have made it through to the regional finals of the Open Mic UK contest.

Thousands of acts have entered the contest this year, from singers to songwriters to rappers, each one vying for the £5,000 cash prize.

And on Sunday, September 30, Ben Warner, 21, and Nathan Blood, 20, will be performing in front of a panel of judges, label reps and industry experts hoping to make it through to the next round.

The Optimists formed five months ago after Ben and Nathan found themselves living together for college. Since then, they taught each other how to sing and play the guitar, began writing songs and gigging at open mic nights across the city.

At the regional final, they will be playing their self-penned song Are You Coming Home?

It's a brave track centred at that point where folk and pop meet, with a delicate chorus and a progressive tempo, telling the story of a young boy waiting for his father to return from the Afghan war.

"I remember when you told me he was coming back for me," sing Ben and Nathan in a tender harmony.

"Now I'm sitting at a table set for two and not for three. Daddy, when are you coming home to me?"

As with all great folk songs, Are You Coming Home? pulls no punches and is based on real life experiences – both Ben and Nathan have known people stationed in the RAF.

Their performance in the regional finals will be judged on their vocals, stage presence and creativity – and with only four out of 13 acts going through, they're going to be pulling out all the stops to impress the panel.

"It's all about trying to get that big break that every musician goes for," explains Ben.

"The judges are going to be awarding extra points for things like creativity, so some of the acts are going to be using dancers and things like that, but that would be a bit stupid with a song about the Afghan war."

"We're thinking about getting some images of war and the atrocities it causes and projecting them onto a screen behind us," adds Nathan.

"It's an original song that we wrote ourselves so hopefully that will get us some extra points too."

In this age dominated by The X Factor and soulless pop, The Optimists are trying to make their way armed with just acoustic guitars, their personality, and that often over looked element – talent.

And I for one think that's something to be commended.

You can listen to Are You Coming Home? and other tracks at www.soundcloud.com/ theoptimistsofficial.

You can also follow their progress at www.twitter.com/TheOptimists or by searching The Optimists Official on Facebook.

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  • slipkid  |  September 29 2012, 12:55PM

    Weel I have had a listen to these songs and have to say that this has all been done before and much much better completely boring stuff; as for the comments about the xfactor I have to say that each and everyone of the performers on this year who have gotten through blow this kind of old rubbish out of the water.