Bradley Simpson

As an artist who has headlined London’s 20,000 capacity O2 arena on multiple occasions, Bradley Simpson’s debut

solo show at the 100 Club presented a very different experience. As he prepared for the opening set of a four-night

residency, he could feel the venue’s storied heritage echo through its walls: first as a jazz club during the forties,

then as a venue synonymous with the height of punk, and, even in his own recent memory, where he witnessed

one of Paulo Nutini’s smallest ever shows.

He also deliberated about what it meant to him personally. Gone were the huge production elements of an arena

show. Now it would be just Bradley, his stories, and 350 people who would hear his solo songs for the first time


“I was quite nervous going into it because it was my first step as a solo artist,” he admits. “I was conscious that it

would be an entirely different show and experience to what they’d seen before. I knew it would be nice from a fan

perspective to be able to take in the music and the direction it is going in.”

The strength of the reaction soon quashed any such nerves, especially by the final night when many fans had already

learned the words to several songs just by sharing clips on socials – much to the surprise of Bradley. “On that last

night, I was like, how do you know the words? It was insane.”

The idea of working on a solo project had first emerged some two years earlier. Bradley had written a few songs

that were too personal to be anything but solo songs: intimate, diaristic snapshots of intensely personal experiences

rich with precise details that can only be written after they’ve been lived through.

Excited by his surge of inspiration, Bradley headed to Los Angeles to collaborate with two top tier songwriters:

Andrew Wells and Anthony Rossomando. The first couple of hours that he spent with Andrew was just pure fandom,

as the pair bonded over their shared love for the likes of Queens of the Stone Age, The Raconteurs, Them Crooked

Vultures and The Black Keys. His time with Anthony, now best known as a co-writer for everyone from Liam

Gallagher to Lady Gaga, was similarly laidback as he shared tales of his early days touring with Dirty Pretty Things

and Klaxons.

Completed in similarly convivial sessions with super producer BOOTS, Bradley’s first solo single ‘Cry At The Moon’

set the standard for what was to follow as he started his transition from frontman to solo star. It was undeniably a

huge leftfield turn for the 28-year-old, as his voice – both tender and vulnerable, yet suave and soaring – charted

the emotions of all-encompassing infatuation. It’s a song which sits in the sweet spot between a contemporary,

pop-tinged take on classic ‘70s Americana and a surging intensity which echoes the swaggering spirit of the indie-

rock greats.

“That was the catalyst for the whole project,” he notes, smiling at the memory. “I knew what I wanted to dive into

the past ten years and speak about things I hadn’t written about before, whether it was personal things or

relationships. It’s been like a form of therapy in some ways as there’s been a lot of ups and downs in that time. I’m

always conscious of how personal and deep you go, but I think that’s also where you get the real honest stuff. The

aim was also to write with just a guitar or at the piano and do as much as I could in the simplest way possible.”

That approach created a palpable live feel throughout, something that seeps very naturally into his next single

‘Picasso’ too. With a dreamy undercurrent of ‘60s psychedelia and wonky bedroom pop, it is symbolic of what

Bradley does so well: creating songs with an instant allure, yet with lyrical nuances that provide a relatability for

people to forge a deeper connection with. Its striking lyric “turning torture into art” commands attention and

inspires deeper investigation of the narrative behind it, as Bradley explains here.

“‘Picasso’ is about one of those toxic loves that you know is bad for you, but there’s something amazing about it

that keeps you coming back. You always hope that things are going to turn out for the best, so you keep giving

chances when maybe in hindsight you should’ve stopped early doors. You also come across people who can find

dress-up those hardships as part of romance. That song allowed me to exorcise those experiences and move past


While ‘Picasso’ was an exception, many of Bradley’s upcoming songs were written in the comfortable confines of

his home studio: a converted loft space accessible only by a rickety ladder. Recording sessions were similarly

modest, with the grimy, graffiti-clad exterior of New York’s Flux Studios opening to reveal a space steeped in history,

its collection of vintage gear and stale cigarette haze the place where The Strokes recorded their classic debut ‘Is

This It’. That, together with the broader NYC aesthetic have also inspired the visuals around Bradley’s solo era.

There’s much more to come beyond ‘Picasso’, but for now the next chance for fans to experience Bradley’s new

songs is at his upcoming shows. Intimate gigs in Los Angeles and New York will take him back to where much of the

album was created, with European shows and homecoming festival sets at The Great Escape, Latitude and Reading

& Leeds also on the schedule.

It’s all a world away from the enduring, chart-topping success that Bradley has achieved with The Vamps – and he

affirms that his solo work can exist alongside the band. And for those fans who have been with them from the very

start, his new songs will speak to their experiences as their twenties unfold.

“I hope these songs and stories can help them navigate those experiences,” concludes Bradley. “They can become

the soundtrack to their lives, whether they’re dancing, crying, going out or whatever it is. It really feels like an

opportunity to let them into a side of my life that I haven’t shared before.


Arts Club 90 Seel St
Liverpool L1 4BH