Home > Reviews > Live Reviews > 12/04/2013 | King Charles – O2 Academy, Oxford

12/04/2013 | King Charles – O2 Academy, Oxford

Lisa Ward


There is a time and place for superficial pop, namely a summer festival after one too many ciders. After a period of cropping up continuously amid the downpours of summer 2012 there’s a real risk that King Charles simply won’t translate, the indoor arena being too restrictive for the classically trained singer’s flamboyant ways. Thankfully this doesn’t occur and from the opening beats of MMM the crowd are eating out of the palm of his hand.

There’s nothing clever about the lyrics, with tenuous lines like “I rode her on my bicycle, all the way in the rain…” in Mississippi Isabel and “she got the hot blood of a polar bear, the cool head of a crocodile” in Polar Bears pretty much surmising the depth on the songs. Still, when mixed with melodies which nod at a reggae style, whilst maintaining a rocky vibe there’s something about the simplicity of the sentiment which works.

On the whole it’s fast paced and frantic, and the band give 110% in response to the audience’s clear admiration. Yet there are more poignant moments too. The Brightest Light conveys more lyrical depth, and its folky style leads to the crowd singing back every word. Meanwhile the solo rendition of Tomorrow’s Fool hints to the singer’s softer side.

Though the set is heavy on album numbers, there’s still space for new song Dance Forever which carries a slightly more rock sound. Nevertheless, for me it’s the closing Start The Fire which becomes the debating point. Initially to end the night with Billy Joel’s song appears to highlight a lack of confidence. However on closer examination it becomes clear that the verses have been updated, nodding to Obama’s presidency, X Factor, and the closing of Guantanamo Bay.

Able to entice fans of all ages, King Charles re-kindles a classic song for those of us born before the 90’s, and brings it to a new audience for the more youthful members of the crowd. Quickly it becomes a sign of a braver move; more representative of King Charles’ sound and ability to appeal to the masses. This leaves me only to conclude there is no set time or place for superficial pop and, when done well, no age restrictions either.


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Images copyright © Jo Cox. All rights reserved.

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