Singer-songwriter William Fitzsimmons helped wind down the fun-filled Mifflin weekend with an intimate seated show at the Majestic Theatre Sunday night.
By the time 8 p.m. hit, seats began to fill with a comfortable-sized crowd full of people with hipster tees, men in sandals (mostly sandals accompanied with socks) and more beards than one could imagine. Ben Sollee, a singer-songwriter and cello player, set the mood as the crowd awaited Fitzsimmons. Although his performance was quite original with his interesting mixture of cello-playing techniques, the crowd didn’t light up until the headliner stepped foot onstage.
The modest Fitzsimmons, along and his three-piece band – consisting of a drummer, bass/keyboard player and secondary guitarist – took their positions on stage. They began playing their first three songs immediately, leaving no time for introductions. His silvery yet modulated voice filled the theater as he sang his music rife with emotion. The stage lights glistened off his bald head, which helped distract from his abnormally large bread. Fitzsimmons’ humble voice matched his appearance onstage. There were no labels in sight: Even down to the last foot, there were only plain-colored T-shirts and combat boots.
After the opening songs, Fitzsimmons began to promote his new album, Lions, which was released in February. He gave the crowd some foresight so they knew his performance would not only consist of songs from his past six albums but rather a mixture of all seven. He said he did not want to be like other artists and repeatedly play his most-recognizable hit song “Passion Play” for the next two hours, referring to a Vanilla Ice appearance at a college campus when he could only please the crowd by continuously performing his only hit “Ice Ice Baby.” Throughout the concert, Fitzsimmons used similar humor to lighten up a performance filled with heartfelt, sad songs.
Fitzsimmons also admitted that he has had no growth within the last eight years with his music. He claimed his music was merely all “fluff” and that he was working on more serious stuff. The crowd busted with laughter from his sarcastic remarks about his music. All of Fitzsimmons’ songs are about deep connections and feelings, far from the lightweight “fluff” he was speaking of.
As the concert came to an end, Fitzsimmons opened up for requests from the crowd. A woman near the back, playing along with the onstage humor, gave a shout of excitement as she requested “Ice Ice Baby.” The band clearly got a kick out of her wish, but moved on shortly after making an impromptu attempt of playing Vanilla Ice. After taking more serious requests, he then played brief cover songs of famous artists like Rihanna and Nirvana. Although Fitzsimmons’ music is extraordinary, he further buoyed his performance with his great charisma and lighthearted humor, which helped keep the excessive sadness and seriousness that lie beneath his heartbreaking lyrics at bay.