REVIEW: King Charles – Limelight, Belfast

kingcharlesIt is now almost three years since West London singer-songwriter Charles Costa or better known as ‘King Charles’ brought out his first studio album ‘Loveblood’ back in 2012.

His upbeat, energetic music is paired perfectly with his elaborate Adam Ant-esque, playful style that he is best known for.

Kickstarting the evening were two man support act Gallery Circus. Without any introduction they jumped right into their first song. Deceiving with its eclectic keyboard start that was reminiscent of Vampire Weekend, the song suddenly entered the realms of heavy rock with guitar solos and lyrics that evolved into high pitched screaming at its peaks. Watching Gallery Circus gives you the feeling that their instruments have been very very bad and are being punished through the exceedingly intense drum bashing and guitar solos that make you worry their guitar isn’t going to endure the show. The term ‘shredding’ really lives up to its expectations in terms of their musical skill. Despite the ultimately contrasting use of eclectic keyboard at intervals Gallery Circus sound very much Queens of The Stone Age-esque through their heavy guitar riffs and vocal range that is helplessly comparable to that of QOSA’s Homme.

After Gallery Circus’s frenzied contribution, you’re left unsure how King Charles could possibly pick up where they left off in terms of energy. Casually walking on to the stage almost unnoticed in an uncharacteristically non-elaborate get up, immediately the feeling that King Charles’ style has developed since his 2012 beginnings reached modest acclaim. Completely laid back and exuding confidence, Charles Costa has the rock star prowess and attitude pinned down from the onset of his show. A subdued, slow start provided a welcomed counterpoint to the previous energy of Gallery Circus. Yet this still proved surprising since his once elaborate image and mostly fast paced music comes with certain expectations of a playful and energetic show in store.

Yet, the low-key start does not provide the precedent for the rest of the show. ‘The Brightest Lights’ proves almost impossible for the audience not to sing along to with its simple yet poignant lyrics. It is to easy imagine it being a hit at festivals. ‘Coco Chitty’ is a song that makes you surprised it has not gained him more recognition. Not being one of his best known songs it proves to be one of the best performances in his show. Guitar only emphasises the emotive chorus’ lyrics ‘I don’t need to see you to know how beautiful you are’. It has a grungier, more intense feel than the songs before and the lyrics are difficult not to want to sing along to.

Explaining how he is in the middle of recording a new album, we are given a rendition of one of his new songs – ‘Loose Change.’ It has a slow start, with just Costa on guitar and vocals but kicks off unexpectedly into a more heavy song that picks up speed. His style much like his attire, appears more matured and developed, especially with the lyrics ‘I know what it is to be alive’. There is a clear difference between this and the better known upbeat offerings such as ‘Loveblood’ or ‘Bam Bam’.

However, of course he doesn’t skip out on the more popular upbeat songs. Saying ‘Let’s have some fun’ Costa kicked off into the impossibly catchy ‘Loveblood‘ which probably sealed the reason many people chose to come to the show. His vocals are strong and stay true to the expectations we have from hearing the song before. It is a bit more fast paced than the original record but this only encourages the audience to engage with it even more.

The last song before the encore provided an unexpected rendition of a synth infused ‘You Can Call Me Al’ mashed with the hugely sanguine ‘Lady Percy‘. It garnered the most participation from the audience and undoubtedly ended the show on a high note. The encore brought the show to a final close in a slightly different way with Costa reading a poem from his phone to instrumentals. Overall, King Charles’ show endeavoured to show a definite growth within his music and left his audience in anticipation of what the future will bring with his new album in the making. Kaity Hall, GiggingNI.com