Making your UK live debut at the industry-figure-heavy Great Escape festival should sound like risky make-or-break business for many musician hopefuls. Add on a good 6 months’ worth of blog hype and you’d think the pressure would be on for New Zealand’s latest offering Thomston.

However, the guy behind the alias, Thomas Stoneman, shows no sign of giving in to said-pressure throughout his set of intelligent, gloomy pop at Brighton’s regal Paganini Ballroom. It seems a rather fitting setting for the Auckland based teen to showcase the mature and ambient sound he’s secured for the handful of EPs and singles he’s released so far.

Opener and EP standout ‘Grey’ sounds remarkably glossier in the live scenario whilst the harmonious backing vocals of ‘School Night’ cue the first mid-life-crisis dancing from a crowd goer of the weekend. Even a surprise cover of Mario’s ‘Let Me Love You’ sounds a lot better than it does on paper.

Stage talk is kept to a mere few thankings, albeit the lyrics carry intriguing and thought provoking shadows. Slow pacing set closer ‘Collarbones’ details a friend struggling with an eating disorder: “I can see your collarbones and baby, I’m scared…” In ‘Burning Out’, Thomston states “I’m in this for the long haul.” It’s unlikely anyone in the room is doubting him.

Electronics, R’n’B beats and harmonies combine, with the full live band merely emphasising his talent as an assured young artist living up to the surrounding buzz he’s gained from his unique sound and (often, quite frankly heart wrenching) lyrics. If this rainy afternoon’s set is anything to go by then Thomston is most definitely going places, no speed limit.

Written by Bill Baker

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