Live Review: Charlie Simpson, Emma Blackery, Blackwell & Willow Robinson – Islington Assembly Hall, London – 10/02/2015

Having got caught up in a sea of red and white football scarves on my way to the concert, I very sadly only caught the last ten minutes of Willow Robinson’s set. Bathed in a sea of purple light his warm smile gave way to a soulful voice with tones of Eddie Vedder tucked in there. An accomplished guitar player it was a shame that the early audience didn’t seem to be appreciating the talent before them. A beautiful start to the evening and I will definitely catch the talented Willow live again. (4/5)

He was followed by Blackwell who were unfortunately lacking their drummer tonight. Although the drummer’s presence would of course have added to the sound, giving it a little more impetus than just piano and bass, I wasn’t too enamoured by the songs such as ‘Pretty Legs’, the fun and upbeat ‘She Knows It’ which the crowd enjoyed and ‘SOS’ that were played on this occasion. I think it only fair that I see them in full force before dismissing them completely. (2/5)

The final support slot went to the dainty YouTube vlogger Emma Blackery this young lady has a good voice that at times was American teen pop on songs such as ‘Undercover Lover’ about a fight with her boyfriend who was also in the audience tonight, but who is not keen on the song. That said it was a fun song, with good lyrics. On other occasions it was stronger and suited her better and despite her ill health, she did a stirring job. Whilst I feel she needs to work out which vocal tone she is going to go with, Emma is an energetic performer and she certainly did her part in warming up the audience. (3/5)

Charlie Simpson comes on stage flanked in part by the pianist from Breakwell and an electric double bass, as he opens with the upbeat ‘Comets’. The delicate ‘Emily’ is a lovely addition to the set, a dreamy sounding song of distant support that is beautifully performed. I loved the lyrics to ‘Sundown’ too. When singing live Charlie has a soft mumble to some of his words in contrast to the cleaner sounding CD recordings, which is rather charming.

Charlie announced that he and his wife are expecting their first child and he dedicates ‘Long Road Home’ to their baby. A much more upbeat song filled with strong piano chords and a steady beat ‘Long Road Home’ gets the audience dancing. Followed by a cover of what Charlie says is one of his favourite songs, he is left alone on stage to play a faithful rendition of Imogen Heap’s ‘Hide and Seek’ to which the crowd listen intently.

After playing favourable numbers such as ‘Parachutes’, ‘Would You Love Me Any Less’ and ‘Farmer and His Gun,’ Simpson delivered ‘Winter Hyms,’ a personal highlight with it’s stunning vocal harmonies and lovely acoustic guitar line. The quality of the vocal harmony between Charlie and his backing vocalists, is the stand out element of tonight’s concert for me, this is a rare and wonderful find. Charlie is an endearing and gracious musician who plays a delightful, well thought through concert. (4.5/5)


Words and photos by Heather Fitsell.

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