TALENTED Athlete frontman, Joel Pott, certainly had the crowd eating out of the palm of his hand.

He sounded entirely genuine when he said "this has been one of the best nights we've had" as the sold-out gig drew to an end - and all the signs were there to suggest that many of the appreciative crowd agreed with him.

The praise the singer heaped on their attentive fans' singing ability - which he roused at every available opportunity - undoubtedly helped but the main reason has to be the sheer quality of the band's live sound.

That is not to mention the impressive stage presence of each musician, particularly charismatic keyboard player, Tim Winstall, who spent most of the time making shapes as well as hitting the right notes.

A host of well-known favourites, including You Got the Style, El Salvador and Out of Nowhere, showed why their debut album, Vehicles and Animals, was nominated for last year's Mercury Music Prize and tasters from their soon-to-be-released offering, Tourist, indicated this nomination was undoubtedly not their last.

It is due to be released at the end of this month, following on from chilled-out new single, Wires, hitting the charts last weekend.

More good news for anyone who missed this gig is that the band has also announced a second UK tour for 2005, kicking off on March 3 in Leeds and also includes a concert at Birmingham Academy on March 10.

Catch them if you can or you'll regret it. BH