Fightstar@ Newcastle University Basement, October 26 2009

Play any Fightstar song to your average rock fan and challenge them to guess its origins. There could only be a minute chance that they would guess the screaming lead vocals are sung by a member of boy band Busted – namely Charlie Simpson.

It is a surreal sight to see the same man who used to sing about air-hostesses, visiting the future and school boy crushes now falling into the ‘emo-screamo’ category. But for the most part it works.

Crammed into Newcastle University’s basement an adolescent audience were warmed up by a handful of impressive bands.

Kicking off were the fantastic indie-rockers Prego who, although relatively unknown right now, could be destined for great things. And they just happen to feature Simpson’s older brother Edd. Young Guns gave the crowd a slightly more strenuous work out, sounding like a Start Something-era Lostprophets with more attitude.

By the time Saving Aimee took to the stage, the gathering crowd seemed boisterous and ready for something special. It was delivered in part by the final warm-up act who once again sounded more indie-rock than rock in parts – not a bad thing in this case.

Although Simpson used to walk out to thousands of teenage girls, he looked more comfortable walking out in the humble surroundings of a Newcastle basement.

With new album Be Human finding the band maturing with an atmospheric sound, it was no surprise the set list was packed with new songs while squeezing in a few ‘oldies’.

A strange quirk that became quite noticeable from Simpson is a seeming reluctance to look out at his crowd, only glancing up a couple of times throughout the night.

This didn’t seem to deter any of the band in delivering an electric performance including some brilliant renditions of Chemical Blood, Mercury Summer and Grand Unification Part 1.

Perhaps the best performance was saved for the penultimate song the epic sounding War Machine wrapped up finally by Palahniuk’s Laughter.

It’s not surprising that Simpson didn’t want to stick around in the pop scene when it seems his true calling was always rock alongside some very talented musicians in Fightstar.

Andy Spoors