Live Review: Chris Simmons

16 Aug

Pavilion Theatre, August 6, 2011

Sussex singer-songwriter Chris Simmons will never play to a more supportive crowd than that at the Pavilion Theatre.

The partisan audience – here to celebrate the launch of his album – had to be told to pipe down so he could start his set.

Accompanied by a string quartet and a three-piece backing band, he wasted little time in repaying the abundance of goodwill.

The Watchmaker – written with Chris Difford from Squeeze – was a no-holds barred depiction of the sorrows of everyday life. By far his strongest song lyrically, it picked apart the seams of its characters’ lives like Brett Anderson did in his prime.

Simmons vocal style, however, is far removed from the Suede frontman’s occasional operatics; it’s richer, velvet-like and on most songs, more akin to a soothing lull.

There’s plenty of inter- song banter to enhance the party atmosphere with Simmons’ picking out his mates’ shouts – ‘that was Swanny’, he told us at one point.

He also got the audience to provide a rudimentary hand-clap rhythm, but probably quickly wished he hadn’t. ‘You’re the tightest rhythm section ever’, he said, tongue firmly in cheek.  Other highlights included Written Request, which could easily have been on Damien Rice’s majestic debut album O, and Accelerate – the one track where he really let’s his voice rip and it’s all the better for it.

The commercial difficulty Simmons might have is that he doesn’t offer anything markedly different from the likes of Rice, David Ford and the late Matthew Jay.

That said, it’s not bad company to keep, is it?

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