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Gig Review: BC Camplight at Rescue Rooms

20 November 21 words: Laura Philips

Following a string of rescheduled shows, musical extraordinaire BC Camplight finally made it to Rescue Rooms. His return to Nottingham was a triumphant one, providing an aural supplement of serotonin on a dark November evening.

Bristol-based Americana-rock rising star Katy J Pearson had to pull out of the support slot, but luckily Nottingham’s angelic songstress Alice Robbins was able to step in last minute.

Having just completed a UK tour, Robbins and her band – comprising local musicians Jimi Mack, Cameron Worne and James Hughes – were suitably well rehearsed and managed to fill the proverbially large shoes with remarkable ease.

Kicking off with 2020 release G.D.F.S., there were no falters and Robbins quickly proved to the crowd that she was a worthy substitute for Pearson, having very much come into her own since her early days of performing.

Delivering an enchanting watertight set, featuring fan favourites Someday / Sometime and recent EP tracks Disgrace and 3 Days, Robbins filled the expanse of Rescue Rooms with her distinctively eloquent lyricism, ethereal vocals and humble yet commanding stage presence.

When an artist has been performing for over 17 years, you already anticipate a certain level of musicianship and stage presence, but BC Camplight knocked it out of the park, far surpassing any prior expectations.

From his roots performing with The War on Drugs and Sharon Van Etten, Brian Christinzio – the multi-instrumentalist behemoth behind BC Camplight – has experienced a series of unfortunate events including mental health issues, struggles with alcohol and being deported from the UK.

Despite all of this, it has ultimately led to the unequivocally beautiful catalogue of BC Camplight, which spans influences as disparate as Pavarotti and the Beach Boys, existing somewhere in a love triangle of classic 70s songwriting, synth-fuelled space-rock and swooning doo-wop.

Assuming the stage, Christinzio quickly introduces himself and the set promising, “this is going to be good”, before breaking into synth-heavy I Only Drink When I’m Drunk, unleashing what is only the beginning of an unexpectedly colossal barrage of sound.

Bopping into 2015 hit You Should Have Gone to School, the crowd gets its first experience of Christinzio’s masterful pianism and dreamy backing vocals from Francesca Pidgeon, before being plunged into the thumping bass of robotic-funk banger Back To Work.

A true master of the arts, BC Camplight’s gigs truly exceed anything you could imagine, keeping you on your toes throughout and providing an unparalleled live experience.

After reeling off Just Because I Love You and Fire in England, Christinzio takes centre stage, solo, to play I Want To Be In The Mafia, an emotional ballad about his time in a psychiatric hospital. Who’d have thought a song about fictitiously wanting to be in the mafia could bring you to the brink of tears?

Christinzio’s talent to marry self-deprecating humour, painful realism and absurd metaphors creates a brutally honest and open exploration of what mental illness really is, warts and all. Combined with his turbulent stage presence – whether he is brandishing a piano stool or mic stand between playing while pacing the stage or drinking gin straight from the bottle – contributes to his reputation for inimitably dynamic unhinged live shows bursting with charisma.

Continuing to showcase his proficiency of the piano with blissed-out track Shortly After Takeoff, his uplifting confessional account I’m Alright In The World, and Midnight Ease, Christinzio brings the energy back up a notch with full-throttle Grim Cinema and lo-fi anthem, I’m In A Weird Place Now.

Coming to the end of an indomitably flawless set, we are treated to swaggering anxiety-ridden Cemetery Lifestyle, before the band closes on erratically disorientating finale I’m Desperate to a deafening eruption of applause.

A true master of the arts, BC Camplight’s gigs truly exceed anything you could imagine, keeping you on your toes throughout and providing an unparalleled live experience.

BC Camplight played at Rescue Rooms on Thursday 18 November

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