Although Southampton’s Engine Room was far from full, King Charles and band delivered a sterling set, celebrating an as yet unannounced collection and some old favourites.
Seven years into his career, King Charles has seemingly not yet found the audience that his talent deserves. The London based artist (real name Charles Costa) has seen his contemporaries – Laura Marling, Mumford & Sons, and Noah and The Whale – shine, whilst he has constantly been one of the UK’s best kept secrets.
Tonight King Charles played to around 50 fans in a venue that can hold a good few hundred; I guess some people are too good at keeping a secret. While some artists may have cancelled the gig or simply gone through the motions like a rehearsal, King Charles and band never seemed crestfallen and from opener Lady of The River all the way to Lovelust, they made sure to put on a professional performance.
This current tour seems to be a showcase of the recent singles Freak, Out of My Mind and Melancholy Julia (there is yet no news of an album and the King didn’t mention a release date.) Of these, Freak gained the highest reaction, and a change of pace to his previous work – a more funky, groove based affair that made the King seem more like Prince… and tonight, a prince wearing a sweater. Melancholy Julia is more at home with his previous material, and about a girl he fancied which is apparently an ongoing theme throughout King Charles’ career, as he introduced Gamble for a Rose and the stunning Loose Change for The Boatman as further tales about women
Before Gamble for a Rose, King Charles mentioned how he had to go back to the American folk music that inspired him to feel like his true self, but it was the tracks from his poppier debut, Loveblood, that really got the crowd moving. (Apart from the shoe-less, dancing lady at the back, though she seemed lost in her own mind-disco.) Classics like Mississippi Isabella and Lady Percy a few years ago in the same venue stirred a mosh pit – you’d have been a brave soul to attempt a stage dive tonight, but the band on stage seemed to be enjoying themselves and dropped a few extra guitar licks.
They left the night after a few “bangers” and the King thanking us for not staying in and watching Game of Thrones. Shame they didn’t sell a few more tickets, but when Electric 6 are playing down the road these things can happen.