Larmer Tree Festival have announced the winners of this years’ Breakthrough Music Awards, following a thrilling live final in front of a panel of industry experts.

Friday April 20 saw six talented unsigned artists take to the stage at the Winchester Gate in Salisbury, for a chance to win a slot alongside First Aid Kit, Jake Bugg and many more at Larmer Tree Festival 2018. The packed venue was buzzing with music fans eager to discover the latest up and coming talent, and they certainly weren’t disappointed with the impressive line-up who had already fought off competition from hundreds of hopefuls.

Larmer Tree Breakthrough Music Award winner Laura Goldthorp with festival founder James Shepard. Photo by Phoebe Reeks

Across two stages, audiences were treated to an eclectic evening of music which kicked off with Salisbury singer-songwriter Laura Goldthorp, who performed a beautiful acoustic set of catchy jazz-tinged folk melodies. Next up and opening the band stage for the night were Sorry About Shaun from Dorset, who blended close harmonies, ukuleles and even a cello before ending with a surprisingly rocky finale which had the whole crowd joining in.

Wiltshire musician Lucas Hardy was next on the acoustic stage, and gave an energetic and engaging performance of upbeat folk tracks with a distinctive pop-punk edge. And Bournemouth band Towers were certainly the loudest contestants of the night, filling the band stage with soaring vocals and drama-drenched melodies.

London singer-songwriter Annalie Wilson performed an intimate set full of raw and heartfelt original songs about love, loss and feminism, and the evening was rounded off in style with a performance from Portsmouth four-piece Arcade Hearts, who despite the sweltering heat had everyone up and dancing to their unique and synth-filled indie-pop sound.

Annalie Wilson – Photo by Phoebe Reeks

The judges tasked with choosing the two winners were Larmer Tree founder James Shepard, assisted by Creative Director Sarah Dennehy and James Tailby from Naim Records. It was no easy task, but Laura Goldthorp and Arcade Heartswere announced as winners by compere and organiser Colin Holton of Salisbury Live, to a rapturous audience response.

Salisbury’s Laura Goldthorp was overwhelmed with the accolade, having attended Larmer Tree Festival for many years. She said: “It really hasn’t sunk in yet. Larmer Tree is my favourite festival, and the artists who play there have done so much to inspire my music. The standard tonight was so high, and everyone who performed is definitely going to go far.”

Arcade Hearts – Photo by Phoebe Reeks

Arcade Hearts were equally delighted to be heading to the Larmer Tree stage, having just started a major UK tour. They said: “We’re ecstatic. To win a competition outside of our hometown is amazing and the crowd had great vibes. It was such an eclectic lineup and definitely anyone’s game, so we’re so happy to have won and be heading for Larmer Tree this summer.”

The prestigious prize will see winners perform on-stage at this year’s Festival, sharing the bill with a host of internationally renowned artists, as well as a day recording with Naim Records. Already announced for the Festival are First Aid Kit, Jake Bugg, Public Service Broadcasting, Nadine Shah, Tune-Yards, Susanne Sundfør, Songhoy Blues, Nick Mulvey, Ibibio Sound Machine and many more. The 2018 Festival will celebrate the 100 years’ of women’s suffrage with an all-female Saturday main stage, and guest curation by Tune-Yards’ Merrill Garbus.

The Breakthrough Music Awards 2018 were presented in association with Salisbury Live.

A playlist of tracks from all six finalists can be heard here.