BC CAMPLIGHT + ĠENN – THE OLD MARKET, HOVE 17.11.21
After a COVID-spanning two and a half year gap since his last full Brighton appearance it seemed that Brian Christinzio aka BC Camplight was as pleased as the packed crowd to be back on stage in Brighton (or Hove as he corrected himself) as the performance was at The Old Market (Upper Market Street, Hove BN3 1AS) and put on by local concert promoters Melting Vinyl.
However, before the main event, early attendees were treated to a rousing support set from Brighton-based four-piece ĠENN, three of whom have relocated here from Malta. The drummer, bassist and guitarist entered first, all dressed in black, and began with a slow, almost proggy, instrumental entitled ‘Island Blues’, before there was a 4 beat drumstick count that saw lead singer Leona Farrugia bounce on wearing an all black jumpsuit and DMs. She launched into ‘Like You’ which demonstrated her powerful voice and breath control, which were maintained throughout their set, despite her swigging from a bottle of cough mixture.
‘Catalyst’ was next with a pounding drumbeat from Sofia Rose Cooper and some great guitar skills from Janelle Borg which gave the band a distinct early 80s Siouxsie and the Banshees feel. Leona managed to dance her way through every song and confessed to being a huge fan of the headliner.
They finished with ‘Mackerel’s Funky Mission’, with a spoken word introduction over funky guitar licks and dancey bass lines that became what was possibly their most polished number, lyrically and musically of their 40 minute set. We’ve seen them a couple of times and they seem to get better each time so their next Brighton appearance, at The Hope & Ruin on 6th December should be well worth checking out. Details on that concert can be located HERE.
ĠENN are Leona Farrugia (vocals),Janelle Borg (guitar), Leanne Zammit (bass) and Sofia Rosa Cooper (drums).
In 2021, the BC Camplight live band consists of Christinzio (piano/vocals), Luke Barton (vocals/synth/guitar), Stephen Mutch (bass), Thom Bellini (guitar), Adam Dawson (drums) and Francesca Pidgeon (vocals/synth/percussion/saxophone).
After a 30 minute interval, we fought our way through the packed crowd to get a spot in front of the piano just in time for BC and his band to take the stage, for the first show of an 11 date UK tour, with Brian in his trademark cowboy hat. He greeted us with a “Hello Brighton, well Hove actually” and said how much he loved the city where you can wake up on the beach being sexually assaulted by a seagull.
He kicked off with ‘I Only Drink When I’m Drunk’ from last year’s ‘Shortly After Takeoff’ album, favouring an acoustic guitar over his piano and sang of subjects as diverse as Buckfast, Kung Fu and Ace of Base over a Glam Rock groove from the five musicians surrounding him. To continue the theme, he produced a bottle of flavoured gin that a fan had gifted him and proceeded to swig from the bottle as the band kicked in with ‘You Should Have Gone To School’ featuring doo wop harmonies and guitar power chords that he punched the air to with his piano stool held above his head.
The next song, ‘Back To Work’, was introduced by explaining how his last two singles had pandemic-related titles: this one and ‘Cemetery Lifestyle’ and showed off the quality of his falsetto voice as the slow disco, woozy synth rhythm built then slowed for the repeated chorus of “back to work, back to work”. He gave a shout out to Resident Records, whose owner Natasha was at the front, who had tried several times, sadly in vain, to make their instore show happen then slowed down the tempo with an almost Yacht Rock rendition of ‘Just Because I Love You’. The sparse arrangement again showcased Brian’s soulful voice, ably supported by multi-instrumentalist Francesca Pidgeon’s backing vocals.
There followed a short chat where Brian told us his story of getting deported a few years back and how he still hated, the then Home Secretary, Theresa May which was followed by the cowbell-driven ‘Fire In England’ which was part-spoken and part-sung, the piano stool again being thrust in the air for emphasis. ‘I Want To Be In The Mafia’ was delivered solo at the piano with a grandiose arrangement that came across like a deranged Billy Joel but with a far better voice. The band returned armed with wine and beer, presumably in an effort to keep up with their frontman who was making light work of his boozy gift.
We were serenaded with a beautifully-delivered ‘I’m Alright In The World’, the newest song in tonight’s show, which was released by Brighton’s own Bella Union back in May. This was a gorgeous no-frills rendition that ended with Brian sitting at the piano for a solo finish, his head bowed as if in deep thought as the keyboards and drums faded out. He promised the last four songs would “kick us in the groin” and he was true to his word as the whole band went full-throttle rock ‘n’ roll with wailing vocals, singalong choruses and more piano stool air-punching.
The afore-mentioned ‘Cemetery Lifestyle’ followed an announcement that there wouldn’t be an encore because they are stupid and featured cascading vocal harmonies and guitar riffs that could have been lifted from a lost Huey Lewis track. The night ended on a high with a perfectly chosen song that few bands would be able to top as a finale. The synth siren alerts introduced’ I’m Desperate’ and with power drums driving the motorik rhythm and vocal assistance from Francesca the crowd couldn’t help but dance enthusiastically. Brian took his mic stand to the front of the stage and delivered an operatic performance to close an evening of pure entertainment.
BC Camplight band are Brian Christinzio (piano/vocals), Luke Barton (vocals/synth/guitar), Stephen Mutch (bass), Thom Bellini (guitar), Adam Dawson (drums) and Francesca Pidgeon (vocals/synth/percussion/saxophone).
BC Camplight setlist:
‘I Only Drink When I’m Drunk’
‘You Should’ve Gone To School’
‘Back To Work’
‘Just Because I Love You’
‘Fire In England’
‘I Want To Be In The Mafia’
‘Shortly After Takeoff’
‘I’m Alright In The World’
‘I’m In A Weird Place Now’
Check out the sound of BC Camplight on his Bandcamp page HERE.
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