In the smaller upstairs room at Sheffield’s O2 Academy, a small figure walks quietly onto the stage, dressed in black.
Picking up his acoustic guitar he starts his first number.
With a look and stance not unlike a young Johnny Cash and a sound inspired by the likes of Bob Dylan, this is 16-year-old John Lennon McCullagh.
The young lad from Doncaster has a bright future in the music industry – quiet, unassuming yet very likeable in his style of performance.
This was the opening night of his tour that takes him around the UK and into mainland Europe.
He started to make an impression at Under the Big Top last year, supporting Richard Hawley at Graves Park, but in the months since that gig his confidence, voice and stage prescience are growing steadily.
Promoting new album North South Divide, he began with She’s Calling Me followed by the title track and Towerland Lullaby.
He then worked through tracks like New York City Blues and Short Sharp Shock before a great cover of Richie Valens’ We Belong Together, before closing with tracks like Colour Of The Sun, 55 Blues and See My Grave Is Kept Clean.
For a lad of such young years, John holds the stage well and is certainly bound for great things.
Indeed, with TV shows throwing up lads and lasses of his age for 15-minute careers of overblown fake stardom, it is nice to see someone working his way up the ladder on the strength of his music and not the vote of one of Simon Cowells judges.
If you have not had the chance to listen to some of John’s work, then you should check him out, and make the effort to see him next time he’s in town.