LIVE REVIEW: Charlie Winston, Hammersmith Apollo, 17.03.2010

The Hammersmith Apollo is   heaving.  Having warmed to opening act Charlotte Connor, the crowd are instantly warm as Charlie Winston arrives on stage. Accompanied only by his ever faithful harmonica player Benjamin ‘Ben Henry’ Edwards, it is clear that tonight’s performance will be a world away from his high energy singalong at the o2 Academy Islington last October.  In fine voice, Winston launches into a simple yet captivating rendition of  “I’m A Man”.

With the audience warming instantly to his humble charm, Winston is in fine form.  His stripped back sound may lack the boundless energy he has previously demonstrated, but it allows otherwise forgotten numbers shine.  A prime examples is the Chris Martin-esque “Boxes”.  Demonstrating a tender touch, Winston never plays with false emotions and captures hearts with his honesty.

The format meant that the some of Winston’s standard set pieces seemed oddly misplaced.  Whilst his beatboxing seems impressive in a standard set, given the relaxed approach of the two man show, it was simply lacklustre and unentertaining.  Similarly “My Life As A Duck” didn’t seem as comically fluffy.  Though Winston succeeded to a degree in attaining a singalong, the audience participation was reluctant, almost longing for the return of the ballad.

Set closer “Like A Hobo” broke the mould.  The irrepressibly infectious chorus saw the sway grow into a dance allowing Winston to end on an unexpected high.

Performing with just Ben Henry proved a gamble worth taking.  Though low energy, the sincerity of Winston’s performance ensured that his audience were enticed and entertained.  By shifting focus from his upbeat numbers, Winston cast himself in a different, yet equally bright light.

Rating: 4/5
Reviewer: Jeremy Williams

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