Charlie Simpson - Monto Water Rats

Credibility is sometimes a major issue in music. For some, Charlie Simpson has a massive millstone of credibility-denting proportion in the form of Busted hanging around his neck. His time with Fightstar never quite managed to erase his history and, call it snobbery, those same critics will probably sneer at the very thought of him going solo and, as such, never give it a try. We here at TMF are not such people, which is how we found ourselves in the stifling surroundings of the Monto Water Rats for a showcase of his upcoming debut solo album. And hands up who thought that it would be an acoustic, harmony-driven affair with dashings of folk? Thought so.

If Son Of Dork and an aborted solo career proved anything, it was that Charlie was always the talented one and so it proves tonight; he’s better at this acoustic lark than you might originally give him credit for. The four-part harmonies in particular shine, providing a sumptuous backing to the likes of lead single ‘Down Down Down’, with Charlie ably knowing when to dominate and when to blend in. Perhaps unsurprisingly given his previous experience, he is also an assured performer but instead of jumping when hitting a certain chord, it’s more understated with a focus on the music rather than the banter, although he does let his hair down for a rabble-rousing finale to set closer ‘Farmer & His Gun’.

Perhaps aware of his own potential credibility issues, Charlie opts to show his indie side with a cover of Wheat’s ‘Don’t I Hold You’ and while a solid version, it’s his own efforts that steal the limelight. Opener ‘Thorns’ overcomes its somewhat clunky lyrics to be a quietly affecting slice of folk-pop, while ‘All At Once’ provides a jaunty contrast to the overall sombre mood of most of the material aired. There’s no doubting the potential of the material, but the main problem facing him will be getting people to give it a spin in the first place. Preconceptions need to be sidelined and if that happens, this could well turn out to be less a side project and more a career. Granted, it’s a pretty big ‘if’ but on tonight’s evidence, it’s one that he would deserve.

Set List

THORNS
CEMETERY
DOWN DOWN DOWN
SUNDOWN
HOLD ON
PARACHUTES
IF I HIDE, WILL YOU COME LOOKING?
DON'T I HOLD YOU (Wheat cover)
ALL AT ONCE
FARMER & HIS GUN

Last updated: 22/05/2018 20:11:35

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