It was a glorious Wednesday night at 5 Points Pub. Cara Salimando started the evening out with a quiet bang with her performance. Her set was simple, and that’s exactly the way it should have been. Her voice is airy and beautiful; all it needs is a piano or a ukulele to back it up and I feel like anything more would have lessened the specialness of it, at least in this particular venue. Some standout songs are “Dust,” “Commonwealth,” “Dream,” and my personal favorite, “The Way We Are.” I feel like she was letting us read her diary, it all felt very personal and intimate. Cara’s one of those rare birds that lays it all on the keys, does is well and doesn’t sound like a whiny damsel with a broken heart. Not only is she a fantastic musician, she did a great job of communicating with the audience and making us feel like we were all best buds. She played amazingly as it was, but knowing that she had a split finger being held together by super glue and was performing on next to no sleep made us all appreciate her just a bit more. “Commonwealth” was the last tune in her set, a quiet number that left a big impression. It was obvious that the song moved many of us, and I was kind of sad to see her leave the stage, but I’m sure there will be many more opportunities to see her play in the future.
William’s set up was simple and very homey: two beautiful guitars, a couple of tables, and a lamp. A lamp. I felt like I was getting ready to watch a show in my own living room rather than at a venue. I’m not going to lie, when he first hopped on stage and began playing the beginning chord to “Pour Yourself A Drink,” my first thought other than “Ooo, the hair” was “Wow, he’s not as tall as I thought he’d be.” Anyway, he continued playing the same chord, saying he wouldn’t stop unless we all moved closer to the stage, so of course we did. That’s the great thing about knowing how to play an instrument well—it gives you power. After the opening song he went on to play an unreleased song that “actually already is kind of released thanks to the Internet,” called “You And I Against The World,” a romantic ballad that literally had my heart melting and pooling on the floor around my feet. After taking a huge dose of “Grandpa’s cough medicine,” he played a cover of John Lennon’s “Working Class Hero,” as well as the very pop/alt tunes from his most recent release Walk The Talk— “Compromising Me,” “Girl You Shoulda Been a Drummer,” “You Never Give Up,” and “Oh, Love!” the last of which I especially enjoyed. William’s solo music is a force in and of itself; there are so many different aspects to it that work together to deliver the best possible sound to our eager ears.
Then came the old The Academy Is… favorites like “Classifieds” and “Down and Out.” Even though he didn’t mention the band by name, it was nevertheless amazing to hear him play these songs; there are many bands that have broken up and feel that it’s some sort of taboo to perform those songs on their own. The fact that William chose to perform these songs kind of gave us some weird unofficial confirmation that the band came to an end on peaceful terms.
I’m not sure what exactly I was expecting to come next but it most certainly wasn’t Rick Astley’s “Never Gonna Give You Up” booming on the monitors while William tuned his guitar and adjusted his harmonica holder. Yes, we were all Rick Roll’d by William Beckett, but I honestly didn’t mind. In the words of the man doing the rolling, “Seriously, how could you be mad about being Rick Roll’d?” After the silliness ended he brought Cara back to the stage to back him up on Ryan Adams’ “Come Pick Me Up.” This cover made me mentally sigh and say “Ah,” it was the perfect song for them to sing together. I thought the show had peaked with this song, but oh no, it did not. As soon as William said, “I was surprised that someone asked me to play this song…. It’s called ‘After The Last Midtown Show,’” I had to hold my breath. Suffice to say that song is very special to me…I wasn’t expecting him to play it at all since he hadn’t at any of his recent shows. It was a very emotional five minutes, to say the least. He closed the set with “Great Nights,” a very fitting song off of his upcoming EP about going out with a friend and seeing an entirely different side to them that you didn’t necessarily want to see. Before playing the song he explained the logic behind staggering the releases of his EPs in such a way that we didn’t have to wait months upon months for a full length record when we could just get four songs every three months, “leaving a trail of bread crumbs” to a full album’s worth of songs.
I thought I had an idea of how great William’s voice is, but until I heard him live, as in the sound waves going directly from his mouth to my ear, I didn’t truly appreciate how amazing his voice actually is. He has so much talent, energy, and dare I say swagger, it’s impossible not to be entranced with his performance. He connected with his audience in such a way that isn’t possible in larger venues. He embraced the intimacy of the venue rather than shying away from it whereas many other musicians might have been intimidating by how personal the space felt. William sang incredibly and made us all feel as if we were a part of something special. If you have an opportunity to see him on the last few dates of this tour or even on his stretch of shows in July with Relient K and Hellogoodbye, definitely take it.
Check out William Beckett’s Facebook for more tour details.