Charlie Puth: The “Charlie” Live Experience

The Greek Theatre (Berkeley, CA)

On a cool summer night at the Greek Theatre at UC Berkeley, fans eagerly gathered to witness a remarkable musical journey led by none other than the supremely talented singer-songwriter, Charlie Puth. As part of “The ‘Charlie’ Live Experience” tour, the Grammy-nominated artist delivered an unforgettable performance that left the audience in awe.

Charlie made it clear that his concert was going to be a live experience from the get-go – instead of just simply starting “Charlie Be Quiet!,” he first introduced the song with a quick skit to show the process of creating the song. To summarize, he jogs onto the stage and narrates, “running, just running, when it hits me,” the “Charlie be quiet, don’t make a sound” line plays over the speakers, a multicolored spotlight and sound effects come on to show him flipping through his playlist, going through a few songs before finally landing on Ying Yang Twins’ “Wait (The Whisper Song)” which inspires the track. Only then does he say, “What if the song starts like…” and jumps into the song, and Charlie’s smooth vocals soar through the amphitheater to cheers from the crowd. As the first song concludes, only a rhythmic snapping is left over, and then the riff from the next song is blended in, as Charlie details the process of recording a door creaking sound and pitching it up to get the final riff of “No More Drama.” The seamless transition from one song to another, as well as the high-level look into his music-making process, showcased Charlie’s impressive musicianship.

If nothing else, the “what if” line would have been a tip-off about the concept behind the show – the “what if ___” is common in his TikTok videos where he shows his process for creating his songs. It was an in-person version of what he already does online, except on a larger and more produced scale, bringing it out of his room and onto the stage to craft the live experience. For nearly every song, he either gave some insight into how the song came to be, did some mashup with other songs while explaining why it works, or otherwise put some spin on it – whether it be by adding a scatting section or jamming out with the band whilst on the keyboard or keytar. As he said during an interlude, the show was designed to “let you inside [his] brain” and “experience the music in a new way, super raw and uncut.”

The tour follows his “One Night Only” tour at the tail end of 2022 in which he played an intimate run of theaters and halls to debut his third and latest album, CHARLIE, to fans for the first time. This tour stopped in four times as many cities and was played in larger venues, and the setlist featured seven songs from CHARLIE, including “Charlie Be Quiet!,” “No More Drama,” the massive hit “Left And Right” featuring BTS’ Jungkook which Charlie intro’d by walking the crowd through his 3 A.M. hit of inspiration, and the piano ballad “When You’re Sad I’m Sad” which he mashed up with Taylor Swift’s “I Knew You Were Trouble” using the same chord progression. Scattered throughout the set were also huge hits from previous records, including “Attention” from his 2018 sophomore album, Voicenotes, and “We Don’t Talk Anymore” from his 2016 debut album, Nine Track Mind. Charlie, who started out songwriting and producing for other artists, also did covers of a couple songs that he wrote and produced for – Justin Bieber and The Kid Laroi’s chart-topping hit “STAY” and Trey Songz’s “Slow Motion.”

The pre-encore show ended with “How Long” and “Done for Me,” both from Voicenotes, igniting a contagious energy that had the entire crowd dancing and singing along. The energy carried on after Charlie left the stage, and the crowd stayed rooted in place, asking for an encore, for which he delivered a powerful rendition of “One Call Away.” He left the stage only to come back for a second encore, and with the crowd already feeling all the feels from the first encore song, Charlie ended the night with just him on the piano for “See You Again,” the 2015 Wiz Khalifa hit that he wrote, co-produced, and was featured on. The band snuck back onstage to help deliver a powerful outro for the final song of the night, and every emotion was heightened in the crowd. The standing ovation and cheers that followed was a testament to the sheer brilliance of his live show.

The entire experience felt like a shared celebration of music, the audience left the concert with a newfound appreciation for Charlie’s artistry, eagerly awaiting his next musical endeavor. With his musical virtuoso energy and an impressive repertoire of hits, Charlie Puth solidified his status as a pop sensation who knows how to deliver an unforgettable concert experience.

photos & story by Carolyn Wang