It’s easy to assume that an acoustic act could fall short in their abilities to pump up a crowd, but there are exceptions. Chicago native William Beckett, and ex-The Academy Is… frontman, is a delight to watch. While his solo project may consist of music a lot softer than the rest of the bands on the bill, he does incredibly well to get the crowd engaged.
A couple of songs into the set, Beckett takes a moment to complain about the fact he didn’t get a theatrical intro to his set – something that is the norm for bands nowadays. While it is clearly well rehearsed and something set for every night, you can’t help but be captivated by what’s in store. Its comical, of course – before the introduction has even begun, Beckett is pressing play on the MacBook he has set up at his side and is running off into the darkness at the back of the stage.
The track is a reconstructed version of popular Eminem song ‘The Real Slim Shady,’ with Williams voice chiming in after every “Hi, my name is…” to remind everyone that he is ‘William Beckett’. The shaggy-haired singer returns as a cued shout of “I already told you, it’s William Beckett!” ends the track. There is a deafening chorus of cheers over the hilarity of the moment, while Beckett stands giving an innocent shrug as if he hadn’t played two songs already.
For a majority of the set, almost all of The Cockpit in Leeds is enchanted by the way Beckett charms the crowd, though there are a few who seem to be more interested in their phones or the beer in their hands. Beckett even points out a few off to the left who are chatting amongst themselves. However, it isn’t long until everyone is listening and it comes with a heartfelt story towards the end of the set, about his sister and the damning effects of depression. It seems to come across as something relatable, as there are a few nods from people here and there and even a few teary eyed crowd members who can’t contain their emotions at hearing about the singer’s family struggles. Following this was a beautiful rendition of the song ‘Just You Wait,’ stunning the crowd to a near perfect silence.
All in all, if nothing else, Beckett is a people person. He is out to touch people, make them laugh, make them cry, evoke any kind of emotion through the use of his music and his words. By taking the time to chat to the crowd on a more personal level, he takes away the boredom that comes with the typical generic chat bands have nowadays. There isn’t a thing he says that you would hear from any other band. Beckett unashamedly puts himself out there, allowing him to be recognized as an incredibly unique character and artist, which is what makes him so appealing.
Photos by Kelly Hamilton.