Gig Review: The Charlatans at Rock City

Words: Richard Davies
Photos: Richard Davies
Thursday 19 May 2022
reading time: min, words

For fans of the nineties indie era, last weekend was a show not to miss, as The Charlatans hit town on their 'Best Of' thirtieth anniversary tour...

A big crowd were in the house at Rock City as Martin Carr and What Future took the stage. You may remember Martin from the Boo Radleys. As you’d expect from someone with such a rich history of songwriting, the craftmanship on display was outstanding throughout. Highlights of the half hour support came in the shape of Mainstream and the excellent The Santa Fe Skyway. Overall, it was a great opening for the night.

With the mood set, Tim Burgess took to the stage to huge cheers from the large crowd. With bleached blonde hair and green sweatshirt it was hard to remember so many years had passed since The Charlatans first hit the scene although, with smartphone in hand, filming as he sang, there were certainly elements of the more modern.

Interestingly after the show, many fans speculated the green sweatshirt was a homage to Brian Clough, on the day that Forest took on Sheffield United in the Championship Play-Offs. So much so, in fact, that Tim took to Twitter to say: "Some people thought my sweatshirt was a nod to Cloughie at our Nottingham gig. Wasn’t intentional but let’s call it a subconscious one."

With thirteen studio albums under their belts and twenty-two top forty singles, they have an impressive body of work from which to select the night's set.

The songs were selected from across their thirty year career. Early tracks, such as The Only One I Know and Then, both from their 1990 debut album Some Friendly, possess the same basic strands of DNA in them as more recent material such as the excellent Different Days that take their place mid-set.

The crowd were on the whole more mature, but it was great to see some younger, new fans along for the ride too. And they were loving it, every song greeted with cheers and dancing.

The set flowed well, and changed throughout, from the mighty One To Another, with it’s huge riffs still sounding massive all these years later, to the elegant woozy feel A Man Needs To Be Told (with great drum and bass ending). There was a rockier edge to others, such as I Never Want An Easy Life, which was then outdone by North Country Boy, before the main set culminated in a blizzard of noise in one of my favourite tracks, How High.

The encore started with the hugely underrated Blackened Blue Eyes, driven by its house piano riff, followed by Trouble Understanding which is less well known but fitted the overall feel of the set. Finally, we knew the night is over as perennial set closer Sproston Green rang out. This one wasn’t that commercially successful but has finished off pretty much every show. Although predictable, it’s kind of a nice tradition now, and somehow it wouldn’t feel right now if they ended on anything else.

A really enjoyable set. Tim Burgess rolling back the years and still looking good for it.

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