published: 26 /
Kelly Smith watches former Fightstar front man Charlie Simpson play an intimate, but brilliant show in one of his first solo performances at the Academy in Newcastle
Charlie Simpson, formerly of Fightstar, formerly of Busted (forever referred to as Charlie Busted by myself and my friends), has broken out as a solo artist and now allegedly finally found his ‘real sound’ – although, come on Charlie, you may ask, how many ‘real sounds’ does anyone actually have inside them? Well, frankly, when they are all as great as the sounds Charlie apparently has inside him, he could have a million for all I care.
The only problem with Charlie is that he is extremely posh. I’m not being a class warrior here – I don’t mean that within itself, poshness is necessarily a problem. But at a gig, crammed in the corner next to the bar, behind a guy who won’t stop talking about how he took a shower in all his clothes last night, it’s not too easy to hear someone, even if they are on stage with a microphone. As a result, I heard little of what was said, including basically all of the titles of songs. So forgive me, but I don’t have the very specifics. I am, however, almost certain I heard the lyric “couldn’t feel our teeth” at one point, but this of course could be an amalgamation of Charlie and the drunk-shower guy.
Debut single 'Down Down Down' is extremely popular with the crowd – unusually, the crowd tonight contains many more boys than girls, perhaps indicating that the fans he won with Fightstar are not about to leave him just yet. It’s already a Radio 1 hit, and the acoustic melody coupled with Charlie’s dreamy voice is enough to reach the teenage girl inside all of us, and make us want to get a poster on our wall again.
Other highlights included a track from the EP Charlie released earlier this year as a preview to his upcoming debut solo album ‘Young Pilgrim’, as well as album track “Farmer & His Gun”, which to my ultimate and absolute joy happened to involve his guitarist playing a HARMONICA. I don’t know about you, but I don’t go to nearly enough gigs where there’s a harmonica involved. I felt like making a protest sign.
The gig felt a lot more intimate than it probably was. Charlie Simpson has a gift of being able to feel the audience and deliver what they are waiting for. This time, he was much more subdued than I’ve seen him in the past – not unconfident, just demure. It suited him, the music and the crowd perfectly. Charlie’s voice sounds like sugar and honey live, just as it does on recorded tracks. Honestly, I’d go so far as to say this was the best I’ve ever seen him. He seemed so comfortable in his own skin it would have been difficult to deny him the achievement of reinventing himself yet again.
From where I stood I counted nine checked shirts in the room. Charlie made ten when he came on stage, and this was only the first reason during the gig I decided that I properly, definitely loved him. His solo material might not light your world on fire – it’s neither as pop-punk as Busted nor as serious and heavy as Fightstar, but it is brilliant. I would urge you to go and see him, even if you haven’t particularly been a fan of his in the past. He will change your mind.