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Live Review: Charlie Simpson & The Xcerts - O2 Academy 2, Birmingham - 01/07/2011‏

Having taken a well-deserved break after constantly touring with Fightstar inbetween releasing three incredible and diverse albums, Charlie Simpson returns into the limelight of popular music with a solo effort, despite public slatings for his role in the sensation that is Busted, it's safe to say that he has regained an overwhelming amount credibility and then some. Selling out the O2 Academy 3 and having to upgrade the show to a bigger room is a feat within itself for any band, never mind someone who has yet to release their debut album, something Charlie owes to his sucess with Fightstar and recent daytime radio exposure.

The Xcerts take to the stage playing an unorthodox laid back set to fit with the mood of the night. Lead singer, Murray Macleod, modestly puts down his his previous sets on the tour as "slow and depressing" and jokes that tonights setlist will be "a lot more upbeat". Despite his claims, Xcerts stripped down set is slowed down generously and the songs that appeared on 'Scatterbrain' sound as if they have been given new life.

A sole kick drum leads the introduction to Charlie Simpson's set before the keyboard and the guitar accompany it, playing the introduction to 'Thorns' before Charlie himself appears onstage to cheers all around, Charlie's performance itself is passionate and inbetween songs, he is effortlessly charismatic towards the crowd. Lead single 'Down Down Down' manages to get the biggest singalong of the night, with Charlie himself moving away from the microphone leaving the crowd to finish off the next line.

Having only an album under his belt and keeping his head fixed on the new material by excluding all previous Fightstar songs. Charlie decides to play the only cover of the night, Wheat's 'Don't I Hold You'. The audience is hushed and a small selection are swaying their arms up in the air whilst Charlie's vocals and guitar ring present throughout. Unlikely closer 'The Farmer and His Gun' garners claps and singalongs, the cheery country-esque song acquires smiles all around and the inclusion of Nick Worpole's harmonica only adds to this leaving the show on an optimistic summery note in preparations for the album.

Words by George Gadd

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