Live Review: Charlie Simpson

King Tut’s – 12/5

Charlie Simpson

Let’s go straight to the elephant in the room.  Yes, Charlie Simpson was a member of Busted.

The only reason I volunteered to review this gig was that I was a naïve Canadian who didn’t know this fact.  Breaking out from underneath the shadow of a previously successful role in a band may actually be more difficult than achieving the successful role in the first place.  A lot of a person’s first success is based off of the novelty of the act as well as plenty of industry support hoping to capitalize on this initial wave of interest.  As soon as someone from a successful band attempts to forge a solo career, audiences judge more critically and they look with nostalgic eyes towards the previous band.

The decision makers within the music industries are very reluctant to invest in someone whose novelty has already been used up once as there are so many other novel acts who can be exploited.   Still, many members of successful bands try to launch solo careers but few survive the audience’s intense scrutiny and the music industries’ apathy.  Two thriving examples are Beyonce and Justin Timberlake.   And Charlie Simpson is a name we should add to this small list.

During this Monday night concert at King Tut’s Wah Wah Hut, Charlie Simpson reveals a few reasons why he survives where so many others have failed:

1.  Charlie writes great songs.    They include many catchy hooks and handles which the audience can grab ahold of and sing along.   He uses dynamics (going from loud to soft or vice versa) to explore musical variations with the audience that they may not normally hear at a rock concert.

2.  Charlie knows how to perform his great songs.   He knows when the audience will want to sing and he lets them join in and even take over, often backing away from the microphone to allow those in the room to perform.  His body expressions mimic the emotions from which his songs explore.

3.   Charlie Simpson reveals a work ethic few other musicians have.   

The work ethic is present all night but it takes until the last song before the encore for the connection between Charlie and one of the greatest rock performers of all time to be made.  In the middle of an outright rock and roll jam, Charlie alternates between introducing each member of the band and pouring 100% of his energy into playing the guitar very similar to ‘The Boss.’ For the younger readers, ‘The Boss’ is the nickname for Bruce Springsteen who often energetically performs for three hours straight each night on tour and leaves every ounce of blood, sweat, heart, soul, emotion, thought, and whatever else he can find on the stage.   Bruce has deservedly earned the title as “the hardest working man in rock and roll.” And Simpson follows.

So whilst Charlie isn’t performing for three hours a night, I would like to credit him with the title of ‘The Mini-Boss’ because during both the last song before the encore, and the last song of the encore he takes all the pressure and criticism that gets thrown at him because of his days in Busted and he converts it into an equally intense musical energy.  He is telling us, I am Charlie Simpson, I write great songs, I know how to perform them, and I’m going to work my ass off to show you.

This naïve Canadian would like to give Charlie Simpson the credit he is due and place him alongside Beyonce and Justin Timberlake as a successful solo musician coming from a successful band.

[Micah Van Dijk]

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