Live: The Little Howdy Do? Festival.

Distinctly grim artwork (see above) is ubiquitous tonight in the Relentless Garage, perhaps London's least garage-like venue this side of The O2, streaming from overhead projectors in deserted catacombs of the sprawling Highbury Corner complex. This is The Little Howdy Do? Festival, an inner city shindig that's previously featured the likes of Mumford & Sons, Noah & The Whale, Fanfarlo and other over-earnest folk types. Why are the dark corners devoid of life? Because there's a heaving throng swaying and spluttering in anticipation, anticipation centred exclusively about young songsmith Ed Sheeran. At a touch over twenty, the beguiling captivation he casts is spectacularly accomplished, A-Team quite startling in simplistic heart-on-sleeve sentiment. Gazing beyond the ill-advised Puma sweatshirt and Brylcreemed mop top, Sheeran pens emotive and scatty Get Cape. Wear Cape. Fly acoustica looped through Ed Harcourt's pedal board that occasionally drifts off into bemusing Plan B witty lyricisms, the highlight of which is irrefutably: "I'm up and coming like I'm fucking in an elevator", aired towards the tail end of the bizarrely addictive You Need Me. The City, a rabid ode to the streets and shopfronts of an amnesiac's London is a little like Newton Faulkner reinterpreting N-Dubz, every word bellowed back at Sheeran from the front few rows. A Halifax youf beatboxing and regaling tales of his inability to resist "A-grade" herbs really oughtn't wash, yet it paints a sea of aloft iPhones and reactionary grins throughout the venue. Quite probably destined for omnipresence before Spring's out. Tonight's headliner, despite having featured a little old way down last year's bill, looks rightfully apprehensive as adolescence streams for the door leaving minimal residue. Aldershot's Matthew & The Atlas caused a rather glorious ripple when he dropped into a folk scene swiftly stagnating thanks to the Mumfords, Noahs and Marlings this time last year. The Hampshire folkster trades in Bon Iver despondence by way of rustling croon and despite the troupe's rather pedestrian, or perhaps librarian aesthetic (a bedraggled accordion tinkerer looking a little like a hitchhiker picked up in the Finsbury Park vicinity) the likes of the swoonsome Deadwood and wondrously downcast Within The Rose insight bittersweet elation amidst a haze of banjos, crystalline keys and a spot of rhythm. The night then rests in the hands of schizophrenic DJs flittering between Roll Away Your Stone hoedown and Britney/Friendly Fires/Jessie J blare. Howdy Do? Equally outrĂ© as a twilight ramble down Holloway Road.