Live Music + Gig Reviews

Fightstar @ Electric Ballroom, London

7 June 2005

“Is that Charlie Simpson?” “No, no THAT’s Charlie Simpson…” “OH MY GOD that’s James from Busted! …or is that Danny from McFly…?!” If any day were a day of celebrity look-a-likes from a similar genre of music, today would be it. Every band that graces tonight’s stage has a member that bears resemblance to a member/ex-member of a boyband.

The first band’s lead singer/guitarist looks like a cloned version of Charlie from Fightstar. The long queue and early start results in few being able to watch the band’s set in its entirety or even learn who they are. It’s probably the organisers’ intention, as for an opening act they work well as background music while the crowd filters into the venue.

Second band Brigade‘s singer and guess what, guitarist, also manage to look like Charlie from Fightstar. And oddly enough they even sound like Fightstar at times, blending a mixture of American influenced post-hardcore with the odd bit of Brit Rock. They make use of Yourcodenameis:Milo‘s musical speed ups and slow downs and are great to watch, almost giving an insight into how the crowd wishes Fightstar will perform.

“Ah ok so the first two bands’ singers are Charlie Simpson’s brothers but that doesn’t explain why James from Busted is here…”

Armor For Sleep‘s arrival on stage brings out the teenybopper in most of the audience, girls and even some boys getting excited over the thought that James from Busted is on stage. The rest, ‘more mature’ audience laugh at the thought of James from Busted now being “a Fightstar roadie”. However, as soon as singer/guitarist Ben Jorgensen’s American accent sets in, the whereabouts of James from Busted becomes unknown yet again.

Armor For Sleep give out a typical punk rock set that would be something that’s on repeat at the Vans Warped Tour, but for tonight its difference from the previous acts goes down a storm. The first sign of crowd movement is created by the band’s small but extremely dedicated fanbase who circle around each other in the middle of the audience. Jorgensen constantly reaches out to the audience in a Perry Farrell fashion which is endearing and yet somewhat concerning, but Armor For Sleep pull of an entertaining performance that brings down the level set by Brigade that Fightstar must beat in order to be tonight’s saviours.

I remember listening to a Fightstar interview on the radio and hearing Charlie say, “We’re judged more than any other band,” and I figured that, of course, this would be the case – one minute you’re singing about triple-breasted women and the next you’re screaming that people shouldn’t put you down. But tonight there’s none of that.

Tonight’s audience is striking for its age variance. At the front are the pre-teenage girls who love Charlie then Fightstar. At the very back are the teenagers who just like Fightstar. Between them are the children being held onto by their concerned parents who are wondering who the hell Fightstar are. The atmosphere is buzzing and most are waiting for tonight’s spectacle in anticipation.

Cue lights. Cue some sort of Star Wars inspired music. Cue, one by one, Fightstar’s entrance to the stage in a Biffy Clyro-esque fashion. Immediately they start playing. No small talk, just music. Without warning the crowd respond as if it’s all been rehearsed, singing every word and jumping to every beat.

Then out of nowhere a fan yells “Happy Birthday Charlie!” which is soon followed by a Happy Birthday chorus dedicated to the man himself. He looks on at the crowd, grinning. He has reason to be happy, not only because today on his birthday his band are playing to what appears to be a sold out Electric Ballroom but because tonight, Fightstar deliver. They manage to blend Hell Is For Heroes, Biffy Clyro and Funeral For A Friend influences with American bands like Thursday to create the emo/post hardcore sound that’s proving to be more popular now than ever before.

The moshpit left over from the Armor For Sleep set has expanded into pretty much the entire front half of the audience, hanging onto their every word whilst attempting to kick/punch/grab anything and anyone in their way. New track Paint Your Target sounds great and tracks Lost Like Tears in the Rain and Palahniuk’s Laughter from their debut EP receives the most applause and shrieks.

Ending on the dramatic Mono, members from all the supporting bands come on stage. Brigade’s bassist insists on standing on top of the two amp tower. Some 13 people are on stage, 10 guitars pounding through the second half of Mono. The crowd goes berserk.

Fightstar are a success and Charlie’s transformation from pre-pubescent pop ‘rocker’ to credible musician is complete. The judging is over. Fightstar will be making all ages sweat for a long time to come.

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More on Fightstar
Fightstar – One Day Son, This Will All Be Yours
Fightstar – Grand Unification
Fightstar @ Electric Ballroom, London
Fightstar – They Liked You Better When You Were Dead EP