Charlie Simpson at The Sugar Club – Review and Photos
The Sugar Club is a physical embodiment of intimacy. Candlelit and comfy with tables facing the stage draped in fairy-lights, this venue proves to be a perfect host for the acoustic tour of Charlie Simpson. Admittedly this ex-Busted member had previously gone under my radar and it was my brother that informed me of Simpson’s journey from pop-group guitarist/drummer to rock front-man and now finally, an esteemed alternative solo artist. Tonight he provides a truly enjoyable atmosphere, with constant shouts from the crowd of “I love you” and “Go on Charlie” reflecting the respect that he has earned from fans as well as his ability to provide a most pleasant of evenings.
Vocals reign supreme over this gig. Simpson’s voice boasts a delicious warmth, ringing out and soothing us. Warm is certainly the most suitable adjective as his voice’s deep and comforting characteristics give him his defining aspect. During the night he also harmonizes with the keyboardist/support act Blackwell – making for a spectacle of two well-tuned voices with brilliant ranges coming together and glimmering.
Notably he sometimes uses a voice changer for certain pieces. Usually I am skeptical but here it is used in moderation and works well – especially due to the set’s stripped back nature and abundance of naturalness which avoids any particular sense of falseness. By the end, the truth reveals itself; this distortion he uses here and there really does do his voice justice. It is added at the adequate moments and fits in just right.
This set has a significantly full sound considering the fact that only vocals, keyboard and guitar are in use. Attention is seized and all eyes remain fixated on the musician. Simpson alters from tender moments such as in ‘Emily’ – which has an easing instrumental, so acoustic and divine – to the lively ‘Down Down Down’. This change keeps us on our toes – an important factor in such a cozy surrounding. ‘Down, Down, Down’ evokes an immediate clap-along and an upheaval in the audience. The appreciation of this track is exhibited as the audience expertly carry out the harmonies. The roaring sing-along gives this tune an immense boom.
‘Sundown’ is most certainly a highlight and my own personal favourite. “Hide your heart anywhere” makes for a memorable and catchy chorus line and the love theme in his music here dazzles. This feels genuine and refreshing. A sensation washes over us in a way that only a truly magnificent song could do – and ‘Sundown’ is that song.
Feet-tapping and swaying take over for the last song ‘Parachutes’, as they have done repeatedly on this occasion. Audience engagement levels remain on a high with each tune proving more pleasing than the last. His catchy songs like this make me wonder why I haven’t before heard more word of Charlie Simpson. As well as that, they re-assure me that this man is a talent worth discovering.