King Charles at The O2 Academy, Oxford (12/04/2013)

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King Charles is notorious for being an eccentric performer. Having seen him at Reading festival last year, I was intrigued to see what he would bring to a headline show, and he did not disappoint!

The thing I noticed first was the age of fans at the show. At the O2 Academy Oxford it’s not unusual to feel like an OAP at 19, with the vast amount of the audience being 14 years old (at least for the gigs I go to!). And although there was an abundance of teenage girls, I was pleased to see a substantial amount of older fans (including some middle-aged men right on the centre barrier…).

First up was Giovanna, a singer-songwriter hailing from London. As she walked on stage I was dubious. Dressed in what looked like pyjamas, Giovanna didn’t look like the polished pictures I’d seen of her before. Her performance, well honestly it was a car crash. I’m not sure if it was an off day, but her screechy vocals, awkward interaction with the crowd and less than average keyboard playing led to an uncomfortable 20 minutes. The thing is, Giovanna’s voice could be good; but she tried way to hard to belt the songs and it ended up being incredibly pitchy. If she focused on just singing the songs in her own way, instead of trying to be Florence Welch it could’ve sounded all right! In the end I just left feeling embarrassed for her backing vocalist (who was brilliant, and really went for it even though Giovanna’s performance was so poor).

Storybooks, a five-piece indie rock band from Kent, were up next. Having been highly tipped by BBC introducing for the past year, I was pretty excited about what they’d be like live. They didn’t disappoint, with tight arrangements, moody vocals and angst-y riffs. Their recorded music translated perfectly to the live show. Definitely a band worth checking out!

However, King Charles was easily the highlight of the evening. His odd, yet charming stage demeanour is always engaging and from the moment he strutted on stage he commanded the crowd. Blasting his way through his 2012 record, LoveBlood, we were reminded quite how many catchy indie-pop nuggets King Charles has!

Making his way through gems like ‘Bam Bam’, ‘Mississippi Isabel’ and ‘Love Blood’ he got the crowd up and dancing. His army of fans seemed to know all the words to all the songs, creating a united nation in the audience! Arguably his biggest hit ‘Lady Percy’ was the song that got everyone singing along, with its huge bouncy chorus and catchy riffs, it was a peak of the evening. ‘The Brightest Lights’ is a track that usually features Mumford and Sons; but his band did a great job at mimicking Mumford’s close-knit harmonies and warbling vocals! King Charles kept the energy going throughout the set, and his enthusiasm was obvious as he clambered up the speakers and ran around the stage. As he finished his set with ‘Love Lust’ the crowd almost immediately started the cries of ‘we want more!’, so of course King Charles reappeared almost instantaneously.

When King Charles returned on stage for his encore, he asked if it’d be all right if he played a solo track before his band came back on, before launching into an emotive rendition of ‘Tomorrow’s Fool’. For once, the crowd were all entirely silent (with only the occasional shout of ‘I like your face’), captivated by his performance. This was followed by a rousing version of Billy Joel’s ‘We Didn’t Start The Fire’ with updated lyrics referencing Obama, Kate Moss and 50 Cent to name a few, which went down a treat and closed the evening perfectly. All in all, King Charles didn’t let down. And besides the questionable Giovanna, it was a great evening.

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Snack queen and entertainment journalist. Records Editor 2014-2015 & News Editor 2013-2014 for The Edge.

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