Friday, 27 May, 2022 in Culture, Live Reviews, Music

Into Music Live Review: The Charlatans

Concert: The Charlatans
Venue: Glasgow O2 Academy
Date:  18 May 2022

Apparently there was a big game of European football tonight but if you were in Glasgow, the only show in town was the return of The Charlatans, playing an electric set to a sold out crowd who lapped it up and left satiated after what was, a thoroughly fantastic performance.

Another in a long list of gigs postponed due to the pandemic could now be ticked off. Of course, singer Tim Burgess, accompanied by guitarist Mark Collins played a show at Frets in Strathaven only a few months ago (see the Into Creative review here) so this was a welcome return – but with the full band set up – to celebrate the A Head Full Of Ideas 31st Anniversary Best Of Tour.

The rumble of Martin Blunt’s bass bit deep as Forever kicked in, swiftly followed by Tony Rogers cutting Hammond organ as Burgess’s vocal hit the high spots from the word go, the band’s sound (over) rising up towards the balconies and beyond, a majestic start.

Weirdo followed, Rogers hands a blur of stabs and swirls as the keys spirited the song along, Collins adding reverbed guitar, the crowd now firmly in the groove and that continued with the laid back and melodic Then. Throughout the show, a video montage of the band’s career played out on screens behind them.

The Charlatans would make the perfect musical 5-a-side team. The back line of Pete Salisbury on drums and Blunt on bass, the rhythm section so tight that nowt shall pass. Rogers, the visionary on keyboard/organ, spraying World Cup passes for the band to latch onto, Collins the mercurial winger, cutting shapes and delivering soundscapes for Burgess, the goal-hanger supreme to finish off the set-ups like the ultimate pro he is.

The band showed the diversity in their sound and back catalogue with the pure funk that is You’re So Pretty – We’re So Pretty, the wah wah guitar effects provided the polish the song demanded. By now, the crowd were rocking and joined in a mass singalong to Just When You’re Thinkin’ Things Over.

Burgess, sporting a cool cardigan, was in top form leading the band through other favourites including Different Days, Plastic Machinery and The Blind Stagger before the three track closing heavyweights of The Only One I Know, North Country Boy and How High. At this point, the temperature inside the venue was red hot but the Academy staff did a great job in handing out cups of cold water to the grateful fans.

There was of course an encore, Blackened Blue Eyes hitting the mark, an absolute highlight of the gig, quickly followed by Trouble Understanding. Of course, the best was saved to last with a seven minute version of Sproston Green, I swear I thought the roof was gonna be lifted clean off. The track was released thirty one years ago on the Dead Dead Good record label. The gig? Much better than dead dead good, it was more pure f#cking brilliant. Let’s hope The Charlatans are back soon. They remain one of the best live acts on the planet.

Keep up to speed with The Charlatans via their website here.

 John Welsh






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