In one of their biggest gigs to date, BC Camplight took over Albert Hall to perform a frenzied showcase of their work to date. The venue was stacked with thousands of feet, marking a recent transition to the limelight due to their newest release, The Last Rotation of Earth. And backed by his band, Brian Christinzio, the madman frontman in a suit, performed as only a showman knows how.
Maximalism. In the most minimal of terms, this is the best description of their music: layers upon layers of melodies and rhythms seamlessly sewn together in craftsmanship only they are privy to. With a unique output, BC Camplight occupy their own niche in the diverse ecosystem of the alternative genre.
Their new album is no exception. In fact, it is an assertion of their maximalism. It is an orchestration of sound that encapsulates despair and desperation in the most exquisite of tones, serving as a portrait of a lost man.
Yet, how can someone lost produce this masterpiece with such premeditated ambition? Despite the heavy heartbreak behind this album, a classical beauty soars throughout BC Camplight, angrily fractured by moments of distorted sound. This is an album that implores you to listen at the highest volume, overwhelming your senses with a lurid rush of noise.
On the keyboard, two teddies watched over a waiting crowd. They displayed their fixed cotton smiles as Peaness kicked off the night, with their feminine, upbeat pop expressing rather despondent lyrics. They were an unlikely choice of support, with their slightly 2D indie-pop sound entirely unlike the dimensions of BC Camplight’s music. On saying this, they were a fun start to the night with a wholly clean sound and a likeable quality.
As the support wrapped up, the crowd was multiplying by the minute. Mancunians were there on mass to support Manchester-based BC Camplight. Pride spilt into the air, melting and mingling with the occasional burst of dry ice. And, with a theatrical swell of lights, out Christinzio swaggered like a warrior returning home.
A band and two bottles accompanied him, wine in one hand and beer in the other – promising a fun night. With no funny business, they threw us right into the title track, ‘The Last Rotation of Earth’. Despite this being a gorgeously composed song, the full sound of the six-piece band played to their detriment. The sound system was overwhelmed, and Christinzio’s piano and vocals drowned beneath waves of noise, contrasting with the distinctly clean sound of the album.
Regardless, the audience was soothed into it with Christinzio’s constant charm, and over the first few songs, the elements became more appropriately mixed. ‘Kicking up a Fuss’ was a particular high point. The wavering synth was the star, soaring over the grainy sound with perfectly placed inputs. The pinnacle occurs during the bridge, with a peak in pitch signalling the synth to take over in a show of electronic strength.
In a more personal section of the show, the band vacated the stage, leaving Christinzio and his battered piano. Here, we were gifted with some of his more stripped-back songs centred on his struggles with mental health.
‘I Want to be in the Mafia’ gave an unfiltered display of Christinzio’s talent on piano, at points standing up in Elton John-esque showmanship whilst his hands flew over the keys with flare. His impressive vocal range is also realised from the heartbreaking highs to the final low drone of ‘I’m Going Out On A Low Note’. Throughout the hushed silence, the sound of rain dominated, ironically foreshadowing the next song ‘It Never Rains in Manchester.’
Christinzio was a restless performer, unable to occupy any single area of the stage for too long. Surprisingly the piano didn’t limit him, as he favoured the piano stool as a prop rather than a seat. From pacing the stage, to hammering the piano stool on the keys, to ringing his mum in America, he contained an unpredictable quality – much like his music.
After the success of each song, he faced the audience with arms outstretched and fingers flourished as if to produce the maximum surface area to absorb the crowd’s cheers. As a sunflower grows to the sun, he was often planted on the edge of the stage, closest to the audience’s attention and adoration.
His constant movement contrasted with fellow band member Francesca Pidgeon’s stillness. But she impressed the audience in a different way – from guitar to clarinet, percussion to vocals, keyboard to saxophone, it seemed there was nothing she couldn’t play. Multitalented would be an understatement.
As the night drew to a close, the Albert Hall crowd demanded an encore from BC Camplight with a slow, gladiator-style clap. The band returned as champions to the chant with the addition of some trumpets. With his suit unceremoniously dumped, a crazed rendition of ‘I’m Desperate’ ensued.
The crowd responded with attitude, with the wooden floor bouncing under our feet as synth melody rained out over us like meteorites. Every atom in Albert Hall was moving. With lights flashing, the crowd jumping, Christinzio rocking, and Pidgeon remaining vaguely stoic, the Albert Hall fell into a fever dream state.
This was enhanced when Christinzio projected to the front of the stage to deliver an operatic performance over the instrumental. The song distorted to its finale and the gig was completed in a rage of fire and sound. The crowd was full to the brim with BC Camplight.
There are rumours being spread that The Last Rotation of Earth will be BC Camplight’s final album. However factual this may or may not be, I would encourage you to take any opportunity you can to see this powerhouse live, as this level of energy cannot last forever. It is beautiful, but after all, even stars burn out.