Duo miss out on glory at 02 final

Greg Hooper, left, and Gordo Francis outside the O2 Arena before Saturday’s Open Mic UK final

Fans with a poster for Lost Art

First published in News The Oxford Times: Photograph of the Author by

THE future is bright for two musicians from Oxford, despite a disappointing end to a night at London’s O2 Arena.

Greg Hooper and Gordo Francis, aka The Lost Art, travelled to London on Saturday to perform The Killers’s hit Mr Brightside at the Open Mic UK national final.

The pair failed to win the prize of £5,000 and a publicity package at the final, but this hasn’t dampened their spirits as they prepare to record their first album.

Music tutor Mr Hooper, 27, from Oxford, who teaches at Marlborough School in Woodstock, said: “We didn’t win, but we had a great time.

“It was quite a different experience to what we’ve had before. The venues we played before (Oxford’s Magic Cafe and Baby Simple) were quite intimate and small.

“Saturday night was very much an arena gig, and it had a really pumping atmosphere.”

But he said most of the challengers were singing over backing tracks and were much louder than the acoustic sound The Lost Art provided.

He said: “They had that real power behind them and were using backing tracks. I don’t think two acoustic guitars were what the audience wanted to see at that time of night.”

The pair sailed through three heats and saw off more than 10,000 contestants to reach the final.

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They faced 60 other acts at the 02 in front of a judging panel that included Radio 1 DJ Annie Nightingale.

The winner was Siana, a singer from London. Mr Francis, 29, from Bicester, who is head of music at Bruern Abbey School in Chesterton, added: “It was a fantastic experience. Overall the whole competition has been really good for us in terms of launching our band and refining our act and how we present ourselves to the audience.

“It’s just a shame on Saturday night we didn’t fit in with the other acts, who were perhaps a bit more mainstream than us.”

He said their billing late-on in the night had not helped them, because the lively audience wanted to hear show-stoppers, not an acoustic set. He said: “I think by then the people in the audience were well on their way after having quite a lot to drink.”

But the two teachers are now planning their first release to get their sound out.

Mr Francis added: “Next we want to record our first EP or album. That’s our big project over the next few months.”

The pair have a range of influences from singer-songwriter Jeff Buckley to Led Zeppelin, Queen, Nick Drake and composer Stravinsky.

Their route to the final took in the regional and area heats, and they have performed in Nottingham, Oxford and at Oxjam in Clapham, London.

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