It used to be that when an artist was branded "the next big thing", the dreaded label would become something of an albatross that would only result in underachievement. Yet somehow, over the past few years, those acts tipped for the top seem to be coping better than ever with the pressure.
This has been especially true for female vocalists: there's Adele, who in 2007 was handed a Brit award for being the artist "most likely to make it big", despite only releasing one track. Now she has cracked America, regularly playing in front of huge audiences and scooping up Grammys along the way. Lily Allen – on magazine covers before hardly anyone had heard her music – is also doing pretty well across the Atlantic, and has made that difficult second album look, well, not that difficult.
Victoria Hesketh, aka Little Boots, is the latest to be touted for success, resulting in appearances such as this, a short slot as part of Annie Mac Presents, the Radio 1 DJ's popular tour. Like Allen, a lot of the buzz has been created by Hesketh posting songs on the internet, specifically YouTube videos of her singing covers and her own compositions in her bedroom. Like Adele, she has also received early recognition from industry experts, topping BBC's Sound of 2009 list.
As soon as she appears on stage, with her blonde locks, porcelain-doll features and gold dress, it's clear that she already looks the part. It's not just her appearance though – from the first song, "Earthquake", her voice is fantastic. It is also polished, and you can tell that she has had a lot of practice performing live (her past jobs include performing in a Blues Brothers tribute band in Belgium). Simon Cowell must be kicking himself: she was rejected by Pop Idol at the age of 16.
She may have the looks and the voice, but it is the songs that will decide whether her time in the spotlight is anything other than brief. Thankfully she has these in abundance, joyful slabs of electropop rammed full of hooks. She only has time to play seven tonight, all from her debut album, Hands, released next month. Her next single, "New in Town", is the poppiest and most straightforward of the lot, while the sweeping chorus of "Meddle" brings to mind Kate Bush. "Mathematics" is impossibly catchy, but the highlight is "Remedy", the type of song that will be endlessly replayed this summer.
Unfortunately, her music doesn't get the reception from the crowd it deserves, perhaps understandably since these songs have barely been heard, if at all. Most of the crowd are there to boozily dance to well-known anthems – a real shame as these songs are crying out to be sung along with and danced to.
It won't take long, however, before Little Boots shows will be packed out with adoring fans who know every word. There's absolutely no doubt that she will be a massive star – she just has to give everyone else a bit of time to catch up with the fact.