Some consider him to be one of the reasons that pop band Busted broke up in the first place (a topic no doubt being brought up again thanks to the formation of supergroup McBusted) and his other band Fightstar were (at first) laughed at by the hardcore community. Yet Charlie Simpson has proved to many that he is not some sort of pop celebrity or glorified rock star, but is in fact a musician who likes to perform many different styles of music, and this current tour is yet another example of this. Although Simpson has now released two solo records (which are both acoustic based folk-pop) this is his first proper solo tour with no backing band.
There were also a grand total of three support acts on this tour, which is a larger number than normal for a tour. You usually expect two at the very most so it’s nice that we got to see loads of different acts in one night.
First off, we had Willow Robinson who started off the night with his own brand of folk-pop. Although he gave a great performance and connected with the crowd, the music unfortunately didn’t really sound that memorable. That’s not to say that the music itself was bad. In fact, it was quite lovely but overall it felt a little generic and you ended up forgetting the performance shortly after he left the stage. Willow has potential for sure, but unfortunately the performance on the night felt lacking in something to make it truly memorable.
Things then picked up with Andy Blackwell, who is the pianist for Charlie Simpson’s backing band. Blackwell is clearly a man who has experience with an audience as he knew how to get the crowd going and had them singing along with him as he played his piano-based jazz and blues infused pop. He was also able to join in with the banter from the crowd and was clearly enjoying himself which is always fun to see. It wouldn’t be surprising if you see more from him the future.
The final support act of the evening was Emma Blackery, who is already successful and well-known in her own right. If you enjoy the content you find on YouTube then you might recognise the name as she is a very successful “YouTuber” with over 800,000 subscribers. The crowd was instantly won over with her charm and her character as she chatted with the crowd and performed tracks from her two EP’s. She looked like she felt right at home on stage as she performed and was clearly having fun, making it a performance well worth checking out.
It was shortly afterwards that Charlie Simpson then got on stage with very little fanfare, accompanied with only an acoustic guitar and backed up by Andy Blackwell on piano. Charlie himself put on a very memorable performance and mixed his set with tracks from both his solo records. Highlights came from his haunting rendition of Imogen Heap’s ‘Hide and Seek‘ and his alternate version of ‘Emily‘ which he performed on an electric guitar with Andy Blackwell showcasing his talented piano playing. The only thing you could criticise is that he didn’t really interact with the crowd. Apart from the usual “thank you” and “you are a great crowd”, Charlie said very little when on stage. Admittedly though, this could be forgiven as he was clearly “in the moment” and was just letting the songs do the talking.
Overall, this night proved (once again) that Charlie Simpson is a talented musician who’s able to perform a range of different styles of performances. If you’ve ever ignored Charlie’s different projects in the past because of the music he’s done in the past, then you are really missing out.