bc camplight



I love a good story me, and boy, does Brian Christinzio aka BC Camplight, come laden with a whole heap of baggage. Namely the few the suitcases he packed in 2011, when he upped sticks from Philadelphia to set up home here, in Manchester.

“Someday the press will awake to the fact, already known abroad and to some few of us in England, that the living centre of music in Great Britain is not London, but somewhere further North.” – Sir Edward William Elgar, 1903

Having played just a handful of gigs over the last five years, tonight’s BC Camplight show at the Soup Kitchen, is a showcase of fresh material, a new line-up and a huge hello to his new Mancunian ‘home’ crowd.

BC’s musical journey, to date, is a maverick tale that wouldn’t be out of place in one of those ‘unlikely hero’ films. If he was on the X Factor he’d get his own montage. Brian started playing the piano when he was four years old, was captain of his high school football team, toured as a tenor in a travelling choir and had a stint as an amateur boxer.

Musically, he become a respected figure on Philly’s live music scene, is a highly revered session pianist, features on a number of albums such as Sharon Van Etten’s Epic and has collaborated live with the likes of War On Drugs. His 2005 debut album Hide, Run Away and the follow up Blink of a Nihilist in 2007, received international acclaim; including nods from TIME magazine and the New York Post.

However with some personal problems getting in the way of a continued career/personal musical progression in the States, he absconds and runs away to where the streets are paved with gold and where they know how to throw a good paaarrrtyyy. However his emigration hasn’t been without drama; he was deported for a short while, but that’s another story, for another time.



It’s bordering on busy in here tonight, but with just enough room to have a dance. BC himself smacks a huge kiss on the keyboard player’s lips before both of them and the rest of the band, enter the stage to a huge welcome from the crowd.

BC cuts a huge, striking figure in an all-black ensemble of winter coat and woolly hat, which looks a little uncomfortable on this balmy September evening. He swigs directly from a bottle of whiskey and passes it around the band, who all have their fill.

Tonight’s my very first time in the Soup Kitchen’s underground space. SK has become a quality stalwart of Manchester’s alternative, ‘summat to eat’, ‘going out’ and ‘going out, out’ scene. Upstairs is a cute canteen that sells expensive soup, whilst downstairs is a raw, stripped-down basement. A boutique venue this ain’t. It’s not even trying to be quirky, what you see is what you get here, bare brick walls and a dusty floor. By fitting the stage down the long side of the room, it means the performance area can accommodate any size band, whilst still feeling like an intimate venue. I’m enjoying the minimalist look; it’s amazing what you can do with a bit of MDF.

BC beckons the crowd to come nearer the stage for the fantastic opener, the very fun ‘Grim Cinema’ and title track from the much anticipated new album (due this Winter).

The five-piece increases to six, as a pretty lady BC Camplight member takes to the stage clutching a beer for ‘Blood and Peanut Butter’, a throwback to the first album Hide, Run Away. Featuring on an episode of Greys Anatomy, it’s a damn catchy and subliminal piece of indie-pop, or at least it would have been tonight if the lass’s vocals had been audible. Shame.

After a top reaction from the crowd, BC adds that he “Fucking loves Manchester”. The gratitude is totally genuine and not just typical gig banter. In a Manchester Evening News article earlier in the year, he credits the city as saving his life. Plus, in other recent interviews he acknowledges the guys over at The Castle in playing a massive part in his Mancunian musical re-birth.

The set’s peppered with new stuff; the wonderful brass infused ‘Thieves of Antigua’, is one of my top tracks on 2013. The whole stage is having a great time, as the track’s Mexican vibes obviously means ‘swig more liquor’. He’s not one to sit still either, getting up and down from his piano pew to drink more whiskey, poke the other band members and smash some instruments. But, I wish he’d take his bloody coat off, I can’t stop thinking it looks like Silent Bob playing the piano up there.

bc camplight poster


Another new ‘un is the contemplative ‘Atom Bomb’, a solo number that could have been dropped from the set list. Not because it’s shite, it’s beautiful in fact; BC really shows off his gifted sweet voice and wonderfully crafted lyricism on this one. But, the crowd tonight are not an attentive lot, they’re rowdy, particularly a few pissed women who seem to have been dragged up and should have really fucked off home after the support group had finished.

As the set ensues BC gets more comfortable on stage, firing out more sing-a-long catchy as fuck tunes, it’s apparent that this man is a freaking genius and this gig is the start of something wonderful for him and the top bunch of Manchester musicians he’s adopted.

‘Just Because I Love You’, is a soul-fuelled treat, almost Mayer Hawthorne-esq; performed with pure energy and he finally whips off the coat. I might be making a big deal out of the coat thing, but he just won’t feel the benefit when he gets outside.

Between tracks he grabs beers from the crowd, drinks them, swigs his whiskey, smashes Mr. Drum Man’s cymbal and drops to his knees whilst playing the piano, so you can just see a little beardy face peering above the keys.

The self-confessed song behemoth, closes with ‘Sanctuary’, which he sings offstage and in the crowd before an all-out, passion-fuelled, heavy rock finale.

I came here tonight as an impartial reviewer and I’ve left a fan. The unassuming approach, gorgeous sounds and a not so squeaky clean attitude reminds me of Badly Drawn Boy circa Hour of The Bewilderbeast. I’m also a great fan of bands that don’t drink Evian on stage.

It certainly wasn’t a slick or perfect performance. The vocals were drowned out in some parts, but that’s not BC Camplight’s fault and may have been the reason for why we didn’t see a comfortable BC from the start. But when he got into it, he nailed it.

Welcome home BC Camplight.

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Co-founder, Producer and Presenter of the weekly Silent Radio show. Part of the Silent family since 2010.Over 10 years experience of working with national, award-winning youth charities and in the creative industries. She’s the former Deputy Director of NOISEfestival.com, Europe’s leading promoter of emerging creative talent. Here she helped secure new creatives secure massive media exposure (BBC R1, 1Xtra…), showcases at mega impressive locations (Downing Street, V&A...) and kudos from the best in the business (Brian Eno, Boiler Room, Peter Saville…).She also flies the flag for women in the media as Director of Manchester’s independent music website Silent Radio and co-Founder, Exec Producer and Presenter of the Silent Radio show on MCR.Live; Further radio includes BBC 5Live, BBC Radio Manchester, plus the odd bit of TV Production Management with international broadcast credits (BBC, ZDF / Arte, Smithsonian…), she also dabbles with playing records to people and her first podcast is currently in pre-production.Bestest gigs: Pulp, Sheffield Arena, ’12 | Micah P Hinson, Sheffield Lantern Theatre, ’12 | Dream Themes, Manchester Star & Garter, ’14 | Patrick Watson, Manchester Gorilla, ’15 | Less Than Jake, Nottingham Rock City, ‘01 | Frightened Rabbit, Manchester Deaf Institute, ’12 | The Decemberists, Manchester Academy, ‘11 | Passion Pit, Manchester Academy 2, ‘09 | Iron and Wine, The Ritz, Manchester, ‘08 | The Verve (with Beck), Wigan Haigh Hall, ‘98 | Take That, Manchester Eastlands Stadium, ‘11 |Worst gig: Fall Out Boy, Manchester Roadhouse ’05 (subject to change)