Charlie Simpson – o2 Academy2 Newcastle (Evening Chronicle)

Charlie Simpson has come a long way since his days in multi-award winning boy band Busted. Firstly with rockers Fightstar, which he formed in 2003. Where he gained critical acclaim and yet more chart success, through their first three studio albums. This was a stark change from his pop roots, trading kid friendly tunes, for hard rock and metal.

Now Charlie is changing paths and genres again with his first solo album, Young Pilgrim which is due to be released on August 15th. An acoustic,l yric driven album with an essence of folk. To compliment this, he is currently on UK tour and I had to the pleasure of checking him out at the Newcastle date.

Whilst I was expecting a one-man show, just Charlie with his acoustic guitar on stage, what we got was entirely different. He was surrounded by a full live band, including guitar, bass, keyboard and even a backup vocalist. This meant there was an entirely new sound to some of his tracks. A more robust and deeper sound which had a stronger rock flavour. This combination in the live setting was perfect and filled the venue, enveloping the crowd in a complex arrangement that has been exquisitely put together. By now, he has been performing live in various ways for over 10 years, and it shows. His presence on stage is that of a veteran performer, commanding focus at all time, whilst at the same time seeming quite shy when actually speaking to the crowd between songs. He wasn’t afraid to push himself either. He sang every word of every song like he meant it, filling every song with the emotion which it deserved.

Down down down, the first single released from the album, and its rousing chorus and toe tapping beat went down well with the ravenous crowd. As a piece of music it is beautifully crafted and in a live setting its stunning lyrics resonate with every member of the crowd. Parachute was another highlight, Charlie whipping the excitable crowd into a frenzy with his distinct low growly vocals. Vocals that have previously fit his rockband Fightstar perfectly, here have been wrapped around radio friendly soft melodic verses and sing along choruses. It is that versatility, combined with his talent that allows Charlie to be successful in any genre he tries his hand at.

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