Live review: William Beckett, Amos' Southend (5/1/2013)

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William Beckett
Amos' Southend
May 1, 2013

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  • Courtney Beckett

When William Beckett quietly walked onto the stage for his brief opening set Wednesday night at Amos' Southend, it wasn't immediately clear how his solo sound would play out with a crowd that clearly knew him from his time with The Academy Is... . Yet with a smile and a few quips, Beckett reminded the audience that he is an individual, and yes, he is a seasoned performer who can successfully make the transition from epic frontman to solo indie artist. Using a laptop.

Calling it his "band in a box," Beckett pressed play on a pre-recorded set of digital beats - the only thing backing up his incredible voice and guitar work. "Tonight is about the new," he began, acknowledging his last trip to Amos' with TAI and immediately establishing that this was a different ball game. "Most of this is probably new to most of you, but this song is even... new-er," he said, as he began his one-man show.

Beckett made a lot of promises once The Academy Is... called it quits in 2011. He left Atlantic Records, the major label that had made a career for the band Beckett fronted for eight years, and joined the indie label Equal Vision Records as a solo singer-songwriter. So, it was with an air of curiosity that the crowd pushed toward the stage as Beckett set up his own equipment - notably, nothing more than his acoustic
guitar and a MacBook laptop sitting on a stool. It was a vastly different setup from the production that accompanied him the last time he played Amos' Southend, with TAI.

Beckett released his first solo EP, Walk the Talk, in April 2012 and quickly followed it with Winds Will Change and What Will Be. Playing a handful of songs from the three EPs, Beckett solidified his place as a clever lyricist who puts it out there with his signature velvety vocals - the guy is so naturally talented it seems effortless. His set was the opener for headliners Relient K and Hellogoodbye.

He seduced the crowd (though most of the ladies already seemed to be his) with lyrics "about an ex-girlfriend... named Scarlett Johansson," he joked, eliciting screams. "In the dark, in the moonlit midnight cold, all the light my love has known will not be forgotten," he sings in "Scarlett (Tokyo)," driven by Beckett's signature poetic lyricism and steady rhythm on the guitar.

We're seeing Beckett as we rarely have before, stripped down to only a microphone and a guitar, and he more than delivers. Rarely do musicians make the transition from a successful band to a solo artist with a "new" identity and style, but Beckett pulls it off without neglecting the fans from his TAI days. He gave not just an intimate performance but also an intimate view into who he is as a person, and that person is
poised for a long solo run.

Setlist
Compromising Me
Stuck in Love
Dear Life
Scarlett (Tokyo)
Closer: Oh Love
Great Night

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