Gig Review: BC Camplight at Rock City

Words: Izzy Morris
Photos: Natasha Shipston
Tuesday 28 November 2023
reading time: min, words

Rock City was the last stop for The Last Rotation of the Earth tour – BC Camplight’s incredibly well received album from earlier this year. The American-Mancunian singer-songwriter treated Nottingham to an evening that was both cohesive and filled with charisma, joined also by Dutch indie-rock band Personal Trainer. Izzy Morris reviews…

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I love it when this happens – I completely forget to check set times, and line-ups, and walk into a venue with no idea of who the support is going to be. When I wandered up the Rock City steps into the crowd, and saw that sheet of paper taped to a pillar that read ‘Personal Trainer - 7:45’, I’ll admit I had a little bit of a fist pump. This eclectic collective (say that three times, fast) combine veteran artists from the scene in Amsterdam, previously featuring members of Pip Blom, Steve French, Canshaker Pi, (where frontman Willem Smit came from) and more. Personal Trainer is a culmination of different artistic experiences, and friendships spearheaded by permanent fixture, Smit. They’ve got kaleidoscopic energy and stage presence, all bundled in a surprisingly neat package for such a changeable band. 

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My Dad, who joined me for the night, labelled the band as ‘the kids of the Talking Heads’, and you know what? I can kind of see it. They’re jovial, synthy and interesting to watch, especially the member on keys, who had a particular style of dancing that was captivating – like a funky robot with jazz hands. I’ll definitely be wanting to catch them again on their next trip around the UK. 

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Donning his signature large black hat and black trenchcoat, BC Camplight took to the stage, with a wave and a smile met with rapturous applause. Opening with the album’s title track, Brian James Christinzio sat at the piano on the centre of the stage and immediately commanded the respect of the room, under a wash of blue lighting. 

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His gorgeously smooth vocals and incredibly clever and emotive song writing was just so mesmerising, even more so in person, with his infectious charisma in between tracks adding that creative and human flair. He joked that he was in a ‘weird mood’ that night, and that his band had written the set-list on an apple just to annoy him, as the tour had (of course, in jest) made the band hate each other. He kept the bit up for a while, biting a piece of the apple after each track (‘Mmm, Sharpie!’) before reaching the next song on his killer set list, that infused dancier songs to showcase the multi-instrumental side to BC Camplight, contrasted with the wonderful shade of his gut-wrenchingly emotional tracks. 

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BC Camplight fully acknowledges that his audience largely comprises of 6 Music dads, and embraces it, even remarking before launching into his hit Kicking Up a Fuss that “this next song was played on 6 Music every 38 seconds. Even I was texting in telling them to stop.” It was comments like these that bridged the gap between audience and performer, while also allowing having enough distance for him to continue to command the respect of the room. That’s the magic of his music; he manages to be witty, sardonic and deeply emotional without being pretentious. This is why his performance was just so magnetic. 

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Perhaps the most entrancing performance of the night was that of Going out on a Low Note, a devastatingly sad track. He stopped after a particularly powerful couplet to say ‘Oh my God that’s a killer line.’ This of course was followed by a bundle of laughs, before he continued on with the song. 

BC Camplight is a master at work. After a long-haul in the industry, I’m so glad that his unbelievable talent is being recognised at venues like Rock City. An extraordinary night from an extraordinary man. 

BC Camplight performed at Rock City on 24 November 2023


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