On Wednesday 17th February, King Charles (Charles Costa) took to the Brudenell Social Club stage to showcase his most recent album, Gamble for a Rose the follow up to his hugely popular debut album Love Blood. While predominantly performing his new material, he did not fail to keep his fans happy by playing some of his most loved songs, a standout being Lady Percy (even those who didn’t quite know the words were stumbling around trying to pick it up so that they could join in).
Despite nearing the end of his nationwide tour, London being the last stop after Leeds, there was absolutely no trace of exhaustion or boredom to his performance. In fact, Charles is one of those artists who seems to genuinely love performing, one who feeds off and engages with his audience.
I had expected to see a crowd of indie-loving students gather for the occasion; however, to my surprise the turnout was a completely diverse array of people, which is always lovely.
He has an incredibly enigmatic and captivating presence as a performer, one that demands attention. And, coming away, that was perhaps what was most striking about the gig, everyone was completely present and engaged – something fairly unprecedented usually. There were, of course, diehard fans who knew and were hanging off every word he sung but there were also just people who had clearly ambled down on a whim but were equally as enthralled, dancing along and trying to pick up the lyrics. (Shout out to the couple stood next to me all night doing intense interpretive dance).
His more recent stuff showcased not only a huskier and raw, somewhat folky tone, but also his guitar skills through a few instrumentals here and there. I found out afterwards that Charles, rather impressively, plays the guitar, piano and cello. He seemed to seamlessly transition between indie-pop and emotive acoustic songs. It was melancholic yet melodic at the same time, to the point where I wasn’t sure if I wanted to sing or sob, dance or sway (I settled on swaying and singing).
Perhaps my highlight of the night, aside from the music of course, was the crowd chanting ‘Yorkshire, Yorkshire, Yorkshire’ on at least 4 separate occasions, to which Charles got very involved. The whole atmosphere of the night was so light and easy, probably helped by how intimate the venue is.
The entire night had an unmistakable element of nostalgia, it reminded me of listening to King Charles when I must’ve been 15 or 16. Having that frame of reference made it clear how much he has developed as an artist and it really was an incredible, feel-good show. If you get the chance, I would strongly recommend catching King Charles live, there is something about live-gigs that iTunes just can’t replicate.
Words: Lilly Phelan