IT was a cold and icy night, but The Wardrobe was the hottest venue in Leeds as the groups and audience gathered for the first ever Red Kite Alliance Battle of the Bands on Thursday, January 18th. Despite the wintry chill, the venue radiated heat, turning the evening into an unforgettable clash of musical titans.

Ilkley Gazette: Ilkley Grammar SchoolIlkley Grammar School (Image: Rory Bruce)

Red Kite Alliance is a partnership of Yorkshire schools and institutions, that have come together to share skills, experience, talent and capacity to help improve the learning and achievement of the young people in our communities.

Ilkley Gazette: Ilkley Grammar SchoolIlkley Grammar School (Image: Rory Bruce)

Before the grand showdown at The Wardrobe, each participating schools had selected their representatives through their own Battle of the Bands events in the autumn term.

Ilkley Gazette: Harrogate SchoolHarrogate School (Image: Rory Bruce)

The final showdown featured an impressive line-up:

Nameless (Prince Henry’s Grammar School) performing ‘Gimme Gimme Gimme’ by ABBA

Vertigo (Temple Moor High School) performing ‘Riskin’ it all’ by Day of the Jackal

Epsilon (Lawnswood School) performing ‘Black’ by Pearl Jam

Purple Iris (Crawshaw Academy) singing an original composition, ‘The Piper’

TBC (Pudsey Grammar School) singing ‘Never Gonna Give You Up’ by Rick Astley

Purple Soul (Benton Park School) performing ‘Canned Heat’ by Jamiroquai

Sondiko Flares (Harrogate Grammar School) singing ‘Beggin’ by Maneskin

Bleach’d (Guiseley School) singing an original composition, ‘Night’

George and the Gingers (Roundhay School) singing ‘Hard Times’ by Paramore

Shaded (Ilkley Grammar School) singing ‘The Chain’ by Fleetwood Mac

Yacht Club (Allerton Grange) singing ‘Locked Out of Heaven’ by Bruno Mars

Ilkley Gazette: Temple Moor SchoolTemple Moor School (Image: Rory Bruce)

The 11 bands battled it out in front of a judging panel including leading figures from the music industry. The judges were Simon Rix (Kaiser Chiefs, Holy Moly Management), Sally Bryant (A&R / Artist Manager, Dance To The Radio / Futuresound) and Sam Nicholls (aka whiskas – Music: Leeds / Launchpad).

Ilkley Gazette: Guiseley SchoolGuiseley School (Image: Rory Bruce)

While the judges deliberated the audience was treated to a further set played by Manchester band, Signifying Nothing, which included two Ilkley Grammar School alumni pupils, Edgar and Tom.

Ilkley Gazette: Ilkley Grammar SchoolIlkley Grammar School (Image: Rory Bruce)

Every band was supported by friends, family and members of staff and the venue was packed out with people enjoying the atmosphere and cheering on their group.

There was a huge range of talent on display with groups singing songs ranging from classics by bands such as ABBA and Fleetwood Mac to Jamiroquai and even original songs from Year 10 students at Crawshaw Academy and A Level students at Guiseley School.

Ilkley Gazette: Ilkley Grammar SchoolIlkley Grammar School (Image: Rory Bruce)

Every performer had the opportunity of a lifetime to showcase their talent on a professional stage. It was the last band of the night to play, Yacht Club, made up of students Niamh, Eddie, Luke, Krisha and Lilia from Allerton Grange, that ultimately took the overall prize with their song ‘Locked out of Heaven’, which really got the crowd on their feet.

Harrogate Grammar School took second place with particularly impressive vocal performances in ‘Beggin’ and Temple Moor High School took third with a heavy metal number ‘Riskin’ it all’, with the musicians standing out for their stage presence.

Ilkley Gazette: Allerton Grange SchoolAllerton Grange School (Image: Rory Bruce)

Ilkley Grammar School band ‘Shaded’ won the hearts of the audience with their powerful performance of Fleetwood Mac's 'The Chain,' declared by one spectator as "an absolute banger!"

Perhaps one day all those who attended will look back, as people must do with the Kaiser Chiefs, and say ‘I was there’. There was certainly a huge amount of talent on display from across all the schools. There are already plans for RK BOTB 2025 and it is exciting to think of what talent is waiting in the wings, ready to represent their school next year.

This fantastic event was conceived, planned and delivered by Nick Peters, Music Teacher at Ilkley Grammar School with support from the Head of Creative Arts at IGS, Jess Womack, Head of Music Vic Chapman, judging panel created by Sam Nicholls (Music: Leeds, Launchpad) and special thanks to Sue Lewis from the Red Kite Alliance.

A shout out too to the IGS backstagers/front of house (Francis, Zac, Dylan and Sam) who worked with staff at The Wardrobe to deliver the event as well as to the photographer for the evening, Rory from Ilkley Grammar School. A huge thanks as well to all these dedicated members of staff and students for making the first RKA BOTB 2024 such a success and to all the music staff across all the participating schools for their support of their bands and with the event.

The participating schools and organisers are also incredibly grateful to the staff and the sound team at The Wardrobe who ensured that the event had a truly professional feel.