An intimate concert in the Limelight, is certainly not what we would have expected from teenage sensation Charlie Simpson who was in one of the UK’s biggest boybands 10 years ago.
Yet on Sunday past, he stood in the Limelight, just a man and his guitar at one with his audience. The variation of his music over the years has ranged from him being ‘top of the pops’ to being the front man and lead vocalist of alternative rock band, Fightstar. Yet, in the last few years, with Fightstar being on hiatus, he commenced working on his solo project, releasing his most recent album last summer. On Sunday 25th January, he brought his solo acoustic tour to Belfast.
First to grace the stage was Co. Down local, Peter Gardiner who did a great job opening the show. Usually acoustic shows make it harder for support acts to get the crowd ‘hyped’ up but Peter certainly managed to achieve this. A combination of acoustic and country rock wasn’t what I expected to open for Charlie Simpson but his varied musical ability certainly wowed the audience especially with his guitar skills and catchy tunes.
Blackwell entered the stage next and from the first song, it was obvious the talent of the extraordinary musician. With a voice which could only be compared to that of Mika and a lot of crowd interaction, he had everyone helping him singing and clap along. Although throughout the set, he repeatedly reminded us to follow Blackwell on their social media. Forgive me, but I don’t think that sets are there to be promoting social media and the music should speak for itself.
Youtube sensation, Emma Blackery, was the next act on stage and it was clear that within the crowd, many people were fans of her as well as Charlie. She started her set with some microphone issues but when resurrected, she blew everyone away. Her varied range and pitch of her voice meant that she has the ability to perform such a variety of songs. One of the main highlights was definitely her cover of Taylor Swift’s ‘Blank Space’. Everyone was definitely enjoying it and certainly looking forward to seeing the next act- Charlie Simpson.
After a long wait, Charlie Simpson eventually entered the stage and the Limelight which was filled to the brim, erupted into a mass of cheers and applauding. His husky tones and melodic voice certainly had the crowd wowed within minutes of him launching into his set. With a range of crowd interaction but mostly focussing on his music it was clear that having the ability to perform his own songs takes him to a different place.
‘Comets’ was probably the most memorable performance of the night with the crowd singing a long and hanging on every note Charlie played. Similarly to this, there was an ecstatic buzz when he performed ‘Haunted’, one of his best known tracks. The dynamics in this song created an amazing ‘buzz’ in the Limelight with everyone paying full attention to the performance we were being treated too.
Throughout his set, it was obvious that Charlie is a lucky man, having went from strength to strength in the music industry, no matter what his venture may have been. The crowd were soaked up in the energy and went from being silent at points to singing as loud as Charlie Simpson himself. I’m sure that he intends to return to Belfast in future especially after the atmosphere that was created at the gig. Similarly, I’m sure, all of his fans in the audience would be looking forward to the opportunity should we get to see him again. Kelly Thompson, GiggingNI.com