Charlie Simpson @ Oxfam, Dalston 28th September 2011

Just seeing a music artist whose music you like play in a Oxfam shop is extremely surreal. Oxjam was the festival and this was the 3rd day out of 4. The opening two nights have seen the likes of Fat Boy Slim and Brett Anderson headline. So it was no surprise that both of those nights had sold out. I then decided to purchase a ticket for the 3rd night which would see Charlie Simpson headline. These gigs are extremely enjoyable and the money from the ticket price is going to a good cause as well. Infact this date was exactly a year after I attended my first Oxjam show in 2010. I arrived at the Oxfam, Dalston shop at 5.00pm. I needn’t have arrived that early because the next person turned up a hour later. Once doors opened people then started to filter through. So I made my way to the front of the stage and sat on the edge. The compere for the evening was Scott Mills who introduced the evening.

The opening act was the incredible Gabrielle Aplin. “Hello, this is a bit weird isn’t it. My name’s Gabrielle and it’s nice to meet you all” Aplin said before taking to the guitar for Panic Cord. This original song has already clocked up just under 27000 hits on Youtube. It was delivered to perfection and there is something in her vocal performance that sends chills up my spine. The style of the music sung was Folk meets Pop and the set was stripped back as it was just Aplin on the stage. Back to Panic Cord this was a wonderful song Gabrielle could of easily sung like a busker as the audience was silent throughout. “Thankyou, Still can’t get over the fact I’m in a shop” Gabrielle said after the last sog was well received. James Vincent McMorrow song We Don’t Eat was next up. Aplin owned this song and marked it with her own stamp of individuality. “Thankyou. That song made me cry the first time I’d heard it”. Following on Lying To The Mirror which featured on the Never Fade EP. Gabrielle mentioned that her guitar was out of tune but it sounded fine to me. This song was up beat to start off with and as soon as the lyrics kicked in it became more mellowing and soothing. The chorus was very strong and it does actually convey a message. “I’ll play another cover again, this ones got a story. I got to go to Maida Vale and record a session basically so it was a bit out of the blue” Gabrielle said before launching into a take on Coldplay’s Fix You. This song which was played on the keyboard was delivered beautifully. There were a couple of errors during the song but it didn’t affect anything because Aplin had the intimate audience under her spell. Up next was another original and this being Except For You. Again it was delivered on the keyboard and this song was sung faultlessly. “I wrote this song about 5 days so I have a excuse for any mistakes made in this” Gabrielle said before launching into Home. There were no mistakes made during this song and it shows exactly how incredible she is at writing her own songs. The lyrics are fantastic and it was delivered strongly as well. After a raputurous applause it was onto the final song of the night and this being the upbeat Never Fade. All in all this was a fantastic opening slot. For me this was a insight to what Gabrielle is like live and I was really impressed with what I heard. This was the first time I had witnessed her live after regretably missing her play for HMV Next Big Thing earlier on in the year. I can say that I most definately will see her perform again in the future. Gabrielle’s vocal ability is extremely unique the closest people you could liken her to are Kate McGill and Lauren Aquilina.


Panic Cord
We Don’t Eat
Lying To The Mirror
Fix You
Except For You
Never Fade

Second on the night was Benjamin Francis Leftwich who hails from York. There is something about his material that I rather enjoy. I had previously saw him opening for Ellie Goulding at the Little Noise Sessions last year. Now Leftwich has his very own debut album which came out 4th July. The 7 song set was condensed into 30 minutes and the majority was taken from the debut album Before The Snowstorm. There was also a non album track Breaking The Day Open which Leftwich recorded but didn’t know what to do with it. Now Benjamin Francis Leftwich is well worth a listen to. Personally even though he is incredible live I wouldn’t rush out to purchase a ticket to one of his shows. I fully anticipate hearing more material from him in the future.


Break The Day Open
Bottle Baby
Butterfly Culture
Box Of Stones
Atlas Hands

Like last year the headline act only had a 10 song set. These songs consisted of tracks from current album Young Pilgrim, 1 from PledgeMusic EP When We Were Lions and 1 cover version which had the Charlie twist. Simpson is a member of the Alternative Rock Band Fightstar. That band went on hiatus which resulted in the other members of the band focussing on seperate projects. The route Charlie went down was so different compared to the style of music Fightstar and Busted (Charlie’s first band) produced. He chose to go down the Folk path and this then resulted in Pledgers Only EP When We Were Lions which was released 25th December 2010 and then album Young Pilgrim which was released this August. I was pretty excited to see him play as the previous time had been just a 3 song PA at Banquet Records. This time it was the full band. “Hello. How you guys doing tonight?” Simpson said just as the band where launching into the upbeat Thorns. It is actually a really infectious track. I would be surprised if this song is not released as a single. “So you enjoying yourselves tonight?” Charlie said before thanking both Benjamin and Gabrielle because they are both awesome. “I’m going to play some songs off my record Young Pilgrim” Simpson said before launching into the forthcoming single Cemetery. The lyrics to this song were fantastic and the harmonising was spot on. “This is a song off my record called Down Down Down”. The folk roots are clear to see when you hear this song. When I first saw the video to this song I was unsure about the route Charlie took. I thought it was just a Mumford & Sons clone. Still Down Down Down has grown on me and the lyrics are insanely infectious. “This is a track off my my record and it’s called Sundown” Simpson said before a short tune up. Sundown was a slow folk ballad which sounded beautiful It was just Charlie on guitar for this song and Nick Warpole harmonising. Hold On followed on and then it was onto the 2nd single after that. Parachute was extremely infectious and its melody was amazing. The chorus is one you are obliged to sing along to. I Need A Friend Tonight was the next song on the night. This was a gentle song and showed some incredible harmonising. When We Were Lions track was next and this being If I Hide, Will You Come Looking?. “This was one of the first songs I put online” Simpson said before launching into the song. The folk vibe is very strong throughout the song and it was delivered superbly. It was then onto a cover which Simpson did on Radio 1 Live Lounge and this being a unique take on the Noah and the Whale song Life Is Life. It sounded extraordinary. He definately put the Charlie Simpson stamp on the song. The song sounds perky and it was slowed down alot. Simpson’s vocals were spot on. “Sing along if you know the words” Simpson then said before launching into the epic Farmer & His Gun. This was a great song and the lyrics were brilliant: “Run run rabbit run. Just don’t get caught out by the farmer and his gun. Well hide hide rabbit hide, It’s best to lose yourself before you ever lose your pride”. This song was very upbeat and the chorus sounded uplifting.


Down Down Down
Hold On
I Need A Friend Tonight
If I Hide, Will You Come Looking?
Life Is Life
Farmer & His Gun

OVERALLL: This was a wonderful night witnessing three outstanding artists whom all were playing for free. I definately would pay to see Gabrielle Aplin play live. She has got a show at The Borderline on 16th November which I am tempted to book. As for Charlie Simpson I really liked the route he has gone down. The songs he has are amazing. Would I see Simpson live again? Well the answer is Yes I would. The only question I have is once Fightstar come back off hiatus will Charlie abandon his solo career?


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