IT’S difficult when you’re a talented troubadour trying to make your way in an already crowded sector of the music industry – just how do you push to the front of the queue?

Well, Irish singer/songwriter Gavin James has been doing all the right things, working his way steadily through the clubs and bars - so many gigs that he’s lost count - and his performance at Thekla last night goes to prove how this is paying off.

Gavin James is a really, really nice bloke. And talented. Oh yes, so talented. His sweet, soulful voice finding a powerful range in the intimate surroundings of Bristol’s old boat.

With solid support from fellow Dubliner Craig Gallagher, the crowd’s enthusiasm grew with every song. Beginning with ‘When the Sun comes up’ and moving on through audience favourites Remember Me, coming Home, Bitter Pill, and Hole in my Heart, Gavin kept the banter coming, seemingly obsessed with the venue’s sticky floor.

Friendly and engaging, Gavin couldn’t fail to entertain, peppering his set with cover versions such as You Don’t Know Me, for which he came down to sing among the crowd and Louis Armstrong’s What a Wonderful World – and boy, can he do a fantastic impression of the great man!

One of the more unforgettable songs of the night, however, was a more upbeat rendition of his No.1 EP Say Hello, which also won Song of the Year at the Meteor Choice awards.

Exceptional covers of Magnetic Fields’ Book of Love and Springsteen’s Dancing in the Dark were brilliant choices for an appropriate encore to which brought a fabulous evening to a close. If you haven’t yet heard of Gavin James, then I guarantee if won’t be long before you do.