The Charlatans

It was a pleasure to come back to this perfect venue in Birmingham for a night of The Charlatans. I was frighteningly delighted in the run up to the gig to learn that Shaun Ryder was support for the night! This was the closing night to their tour which started in Newcastle on the 7th Oct. They also kick straight into a European tour on 25th Oct that begins in Amsterdam and finishes with Hong Kong and Japan dates. They are busy boys and I have to say that I think it showed on the night.

The Charlatans for me represent my youth, when indie ruled the world and baggy northern styled songs battled southern Fred perry fashionistas to rule the dance floor. In the days before I had to listen to people discuss the X-factor as though discussing modern art or politics. So the thought of a night with the Tim and Shaun gave me a little warm glow.

Shaun Ryder

It’s always been a tough road for the Charlatans. Their career has seen 11 albums to date and they have also been rocked by scandals including rob Collins prison stint for armed robbery in 1992 and later his shock death in a car crash in 1996 – an event that occurred just a week prior to the bands gig supporting oasis at knebworth.

And let’s not forget their most recent tragedy just a month ago when John brookes collapsed on stage in Philadelphia and had to be revived by a doctor in the audience. He was later operated on for a brain tumour. Pete Salisbury (The verve) has stepped in whilst john is still recovering. The band have soldiered on with the tour and release of their 11th album ‘Who we touch’. It has received decent reviews and I consider it to be up there with their finest work. Love is ending is their current single and also the first song on the album.

The Charlatans

Right then, down to business, the support. Wooooo Hooooooo!! Shaun Ryder is best known for his years with ‘The Happy Mondays’. His struggle with drugs led to their break up in 1992. Ryder returned to the big time in 1995 with ‘Black grape’ and entertained us with the classic album ‘It’s great when you’re straight’. The group split in 1998 after the second album ‘Stupid stupid stupid’ failed to wow the critics. Since then he has done a mixture of things including Monday’s reunions, a bit part in shameless and some work with Gorillaz.

Well it was a corking start to the evening. They kicked off with ‘kinky afro’ and Ryders leading lady added a certain diva delightful-ness to proceedings. She bought power and soul to the set and her energy knew no bounds. This allowed Ryder to do what he does best- talk his lyrics, sing a bit and generally swagger in his trademark padded hoody coat.

The Charlatans

They also treated us to a few new songs before leading us through a black grape revival. They played ‘Reverend black grape’ and ‘In the name of the father’ which to me sounds as fresh as the first time I ever heard it. Ryder finished off to my sheer delight with the Mondays classic ‘Step on’. This elevated the room to a myriad of woops and crazy dances. The three lads to our left were hilarious and really did a good job of twisting their melons. The song was lengthy and literally went mental at the end! The band played so fast and furious even the singers struggled to keep up! It was noise, sheer noise and we loved it!

A real great set, to the point where I wondered if the Charlatans could top it. I love Shaun Ryder and always have. We all know he is a funny little maniac and clearly has a very tough body that has allowed him to muller it over the years and still live. I have always believed that Ryder is a uniquely intelligent man and his songs have given weight to that theory. But having said that, this is the man that when arrested in jersey for cocaine possession and asked if he wanted an advocate remarked “I don’t want any poncy southern drinks”. So maybe not…

The Charlatans

Enter The Charlatans. My initial cheering and wooping quickly merged into “what the hell is he wearing” (see pictures) but fortunately took off his eighties disaster jumper quite quickly. The band kicked off the evening with their second ever single ‘Then’ – a slightly odd choice to me but nevertheless a good one. It was a long old set full of energy and treats- old and new.

We were treated to ‘north country boy’ and ‘one to another’ from the acclaimed 1997 ‘telling stories’ album. But where was ‘how high’? I was disappointed not to hear this as it’s a personal favourite. They strummed through ‘blackened blue eyes’ a clear classic with the audience but never a massive hit for the band. They also played a few steady tunes from the new album ‘who we touch’. We heard the melodic and humbling ‘love is ending’- an interesting song that starts noisily enough then settles into humbling guitar riff niceness. We also heard the sweet and inoffensive ‘My foolish pride’. This song has a distinctly 60’s vibe to it. My favourite new track was ‘Your pure soul’ with a gentle pace and Tims soft tones it felt like having a nice warm blanket around me.

The Charlatans

This moved wonderfully into ‘Telling stories’ and lifted the energy of the room once more. So when next they played ‘Patrol’ no-one cared that it was a bit pants! I also really liked ‘Another rider’ and ‘Oh!’ with its distinctly Donovan-esque folk style. ‘Smash they system’ went down well with the boozed up and may I say mostly older crowd. The drunken man at the bar next to me gave me a very loud account of all the lines- he was about forty and a clear charlatans fan for a loooooong time!

These baggy boys have been wielding their music for some years now and although they alter path from time to time to allow 60s, folk and even electo influences to colour their sound- they always remain true to their roots. They are confident in who they are and what they do. They don’t attempt to be anything other than a northern rising of baggy indie-ness that has spanned 20 years. In a time where their music seems outdated, their fans are still well happy and that’s all they seem to want.

The Charlatans

I have to say on this occasion I found the charlatans to be a bit flat- it was all there but just didn’t move me. Perhaps it’s the stress showing on the bands performance following John’s illness, or the fact that it’s the last night of a hectic tour. That said, I still find the charlatans charming and warm and I would always take the opportunity to see them again. Who wouldn’t want to see a man with a long bowl haircut sway around like a loony tune? With that hair Tim wouldn’t look out of place in the chocolate factory!! Hey Tim – Lizzy from TVAM called and wants her jumper back! Legend!

Gig review by Sammy Allen
Live Music Photography by Kat Page

Set List:
1. Then
2. Weirdo
3. Can’t get out of bed
4. Bad days
5. Smash the system
6. You’re so pretty
7. One to another
8. Your pure soul
9. Telling stories
10. Patrol
11. Oh vanity
12. My foolish pride
13. Another rider
14. The only one I know
15. North country boy
16. Oh!
17. Blackened blue eyes
18. This is the end
Encore:
19. Love is ending
20. Jesus Hairdo
21. Sproston Green

3 Responses to “The Charlatans + Shaun Ryder @ The O2 Academy, Birmingham, UK – 23 October 2010”

  1. Stouffer Says:

    Those pictures are amazing Kat, bloody good form!

  2. Wayne Says:

    Yes, I agree! Amazing work! :)

  3. Kat Says:

    Thanks guys, means a lot :)

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