While there’s been a rush of bands who made their mark in the 90s reforming of late, The Charlatans never went away, now clocking up over 20 years of touring and releases since their classic 1990 debut, Some Friendly. The Charlatans have also been an unlucky band, with keyboardist Rob Collins first doing porridge after acting as the getaway driver for a friend committing an armed robbery and who on returning to the band subsequently died in a car accident.
Then their album Wonderland was scheduled for US release on September 11th 2001 and promptly sunk without trace. More recently drummer Jon Brookes collapsed on stage in Philadelphia and was found to have a brain tumour. Fans certainly appreciate the band being survivors and tonight a rabid following are hanging on to front man Tim Burgess’ every word.
Still looking like a little boy lost as he twists around the stage, Burgess appears to have hardly aged, although 20 years of touring are showing up in some other band member’s faces. ‘Intimacy’ and ‘Smash The System’ off new album Who We Touch go down a treat, while the place inevitably goes off for their indie dance floor anthem, ‘The Only One I Know’.
‘My Beautiful Friend’ is dedicated by Burgess to his ‘new Melbourne friends’ and he looks to have taken Aussie clothing to heart as he strips down to a white wifebeater on stage. ‘My Foolish Pride’ has a soul stomp live, while ‘North Country Boy’ still sounds as immediate as it did in 1997. Returning for an encore of ‘Sproston Green,’ the band ensure that fans are rewarded for their faith.
– Jim Murray