Charlie Worsham - The Borderline - London
The first surprise of the night was the revamped Borderline, all shiny and black, with a new much larger stage, improved light and sound systems and a general reconfiguration of the whole venue including the major talking point the new corridor that leads to the toilets!
For many the star of the past two C2C festivals has not been the major headliners but an unassuming singer from Mississippi, whose ability to play the guitar captured the hearts of many. He has built up a strong loyal fan base in the UK, and even surprised them last time he played London at the Courtyard Theatre by giving away a cd of rough mixes of his new album to everyone who attended. So, with that background it was hardly surprising that Charlie Worsham was greeted with an enormous roar just for stepping out of the new dressing rooms situated stage right. He visible mouthed “Oh my goodness” such was the warmth of the welcome.
Dressed in the blue flowery shirt that will grace the new album cover, he opened the set with “Wired That Way”, intentionally as it turned out as the last time he was here had included a verse about moving to London if Donald Trump won the election! Each song was met with a huge round of applause and the number of people singing along to the unreleased songs really stunned him. A night of one man playing an acoustic guitar to a standing audience should not be this much fun but there were smiles all round. There was time for a little call and response with the crowd prior to “Please Please Please” which included the first stunning guitar solo of the night.
If the cheers and applause had been loud until then, they went up another level, lasting for at least a minute after the completion of “How I Learned To Pray” which was followed by a country take on Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit”. It’s easy to see why the Brits have taken Charlie to their hearts, he knows to call the Fall, Autumn, he doesn’t stay cocooned in his hotel and gets about town to experience things. It was also touching to him say that he gets a real lift every time he come to the UK as despite his records not getting played, he always has an audience of fans singing his lyrics back to him.
Working without the aid of a set list, he just plays what he wants, whether it be his song or the occasional well chosen cover such as Hall & Oates “Rich Girl” or Kenny Rodgers “The Gambler”. I’m sure everyone had their favourite on the night, “For Old Times Sake”, the almost funky “Tools Of The Trade” and “Southern By The Grace Of God” would be mine from the main set.
There was never any doubt that he would return for an encore, in fact there were 4 and but for a curfew he could have and probably would have played for longer, but he also wanted to set aside some time to meet his loyal audience. The encores apart from “The Gambler” were a last chance to race though tracks from his debut release, with “Could It Be”, a quite amazing “Mississippi In July” before the night finally came to an end with the title track, the rocking “Rubber Band”.
His plan he revealed, is to keep coming to the UK twice a year, I’m sure he’ll find and large crowd waiting whenever that next is.