Performing and recording are two very different art forms, therefore I attended the Charlie Winston gig full of optimism. Having seen him as a support act several years ago, I was aware of his warm and captivating presence — for years a friend and I pondered who the man that sung about being a “Hobo from a broken home” was. Then, when Charlie Winston’s debut album Hobo landed on my desk, I was excited to have found out who the mystery man was. However, upon listening I remained undecided about my rediscovery. Hobo was a real mixed bag of killer tunes and overblown ballads. So what was to be expected of the live show?
Thankfully, Winston hadn’t lost his magic touch. What the album occasionally lacked for in energy, the real man had bucket loads of. From the instant he opened with “Gone Gone” to the instrumental close of “In Your Hands”, Winston had the audience in the palm of his hands. Winston makes for an interesting package. Born in Cornwall, raised in Suffolk, he is interestingly styled as a true English eccentric. On stage, he proves to be a man of few words, though he joked about having met up with Chris Eubank for polo in the afternoon. Oozing with charm, Winston didn’t have to say much as his music spoke for him.
Oozing with charm…
Equipping himself with a stellar crew of musicians — the experimental Benjamin ‘Ben Henry’ Edwards (possibly the most exciting harmonica player of the moment), the energetic Medi (drums and intriguing guest vocalist on “Generation Spent”) and enigmatic Daniel Marsala (the bassist who rocked out on an instrumental close to the set), Winston had hardly a dull moment. Resembling Coldplay’s Chris Martin on ballad “Boxes”, the album lowlight proved Winstons mastering of stage craft. Though the spine tingling “I Love Your Smile” stole the set for me, the audience went wild for comical “My Life As A Duck”. Milking the moment to death, the rendition ended with Winston dancing his way through his screaming fans and dancing on the bar. Though overblown, somehow Winstons cheeky energy allowed the gesture to remain amusing and not become annoying.
Charlie Winston may not have found his voice as a rounded recording artist, but years of live experience have paid off. Winston is a versatile, tenacious, energetic performer whose presence alone is addictive. The roar for an encore was almost riotous, with the mostly French audience screaming for their new idol. Winston may be “Like A Hobo” but with such vibrant live displays, his career is not going to “Kick the Bucket” for a long time.