MOLLY LEMPRIERE

On Tuesday 10th February Charlie Simpson closed his solo acoustic tour in the Academy Halls in Islington. Having been a part of Busted, and later the frontman of Fightstar, Charlie has recently released his second solo album entitled Long Road Home, as was his tour. Charlie said the tour was inspired by one of his favourite artists “Jackson Brown, and he did a similar thing with Bo Diddley, who he wrote with for years and years. They did a show at the Royal Albert Hall where it was basically just a guitar.” This influence is clearly seen in Charlie's pared down performance, a million miles from his previous bands, but incredibly effective.

Charlie was not alone in making an impression. Joining Charlie were some fantastic supports, including We Are Blackwell and Emma Blackery. We Are Blackwell consisted of a bass player, and singer and pianist Andrew Blackwell, creating an unusual yet fantastic sound. The duo, usually accompanied by drums, have a distinct style. Reminiscent of Mika, they instantly become stuck in your head. Following We Are Blackwell was Emma Blackery, a vlogger and musician well known for her Google song. If there is one overarching feature of Emma's performance it is her strength, not only of her voice, but of her stage presence and style. Her clear, occasionally reedy voice captured the attention of everyone in the Halls, whilst her lyrics had mix a humour and care which made them particularly appealing, particularly within Undercover Lover. Her music lacks the originality of tone that we saw in We Are Blackwell, but it was undoubtedly a fantastic performance by a talented musician.

Charlie walked on stage in the beautiful Halls to cheers of ‘I love you big man’, which continued throughout as he bashfully thanked the crowd. His connection with the audience helped to create an enrapturing atmosphere throughout his set. His expectation that the simple solo nature of the tour will help create a “really intimate connection with the audience” seems to of been proved entirely accurate. Although itis not a new formula, Charlie’s mix of strong vocals and catchy hooks made it instantly entertaining. People stood silent and staring up at the stage, making it hard to deny the power of his music, especially with his better known tracks such as Comets and Parachutes. The highlight of the show was his cover of Imogen Heap's Hide and Seek. Charlie's voice with the addition of autotune suits the song perfectly, with his voice soaring through unerringly. In contrast, Farmer and his Gun was one of the most upbeat of his set, allowing the audience an opportunity to dance, in an otherwise becalmed set.

Look out for Charlie performing at a range of festivals this summer!