Saturday, 15 May 2010

The Charlatans at Glasgow Barrowlands 14th May 2010

Last night The Charlatans celebrated the 20th anniversary of the release of their debut album Some Friendly with a gig at Glasgow Barrowlands, a venue that they hold close to their hearts.

The night started in one of my favourite bars in Glasgow - McChuills in High Street, where I met my brother and friend Craig. A few weeks previously I had sent Tim Burgess a message asking if he would make a playlist for McChuills, knowing that a lot of Charlatans fans would be going there beforehand.

A cd arrived courtesy of Tim's friend Nick who is also friends with Craig and Dale also showed up, The cd contained tracks from 20-years ago, Loaded by Primal Scream, Groove Is In The Heart by Deelite, Ride On Time by Blackbox and many more besides. A few pints were enjoyed in good company before we headed off to the Barrowlands, meeting Lynn outside, to catch The Ray Summers as support, who Craig just happens to manage.

The band were on at 8pm sharp and played a punchy 25-minute set, high on energy and enthusiasm. The crowd began to fill up after a couple of songs with many taking the time to come down the front to check The Summers out. The third song in was The Valley that immediately caught my attention and must surely feature on a forthcoming release at some point soon. 

It says a lot for The Ray Summers growing confidence that they looked at home on stage at the Barrowlands. They are extremely tight and their ability to twist and turn songs completely around halfway through is pretty unique.

It was then on to the build up to The Charlatans, with the same cd being played that was played in McChuills earlier. The band were in no mood to hang around and took to the stage shortly after 9pm, just after my sister arrived to ensure an Easton family outing!

It may be 20-years since the release of Some Friendly, but Tim Burgess really hasn't aged much at all. He was wearing a 1990-esque style baggy t-shirt and his hairstyle may have changed numerous times over the years, but his cheeky grin and warm enthusiasm remain the same.

You're Not Very Well opened proceedings, a sold out Barrowlands getting into the mood easily and quickly. Next up was a special moment for me as the band went into the pop groove of White Shirt, one of my favourite Charlatans songs, yet one I had never seen them play live before in my 16-years of attending their gigs - 26 by my reckoning!

It's a brilliant song and Tony's hammond riff blasted out effortlessly, Time shimmied like it was 1990 and the band locked into a groove, it was all over too soon.

I was expecting the band to play Some Friendly in order, go off and come back on and do some hits, but The Charlatans are always a band full of surprises. As if to highlight how prolific and consistent they have been through the years and certainly around the period of Some Friendly the band raced through non-album singles, b-sides and EP's alongside album tracks. Playing for a full 90-minutes before going off and returning for an encore.

The highlights were many, with the band looking like they were really enjoying revisiting some songs that they can't have actually played for 20-years or so. Me In Time, Over Rising and Happen To Die stood out, yet it wasn't surprising to see the venue going crazy for Then and The Only One I Know.

In between bouncing about like a loony during the latter I turned around to see the hall lit up and the bouncing and dancing was taking place from front to back. It's a true classic and the chorus 'everyones been burned before, everybody knows the pain' was sung heartily and the band enjoyed a tremendous ovation afterwards.

Flower from the album was another real highlight, slowing the pace down 'don't bring me flower to my bed, she got what she deserved'. Tim was in great form, playing to the crowd, the rhythm section of Martin and Jon were as tight as brothers, Tony was revelling in the hammond orientated material and Mark on guitar was creating soundscapes with his effects.

Can't Even Be Bothered was the only non Some Friendly era track played the entire night, I imagine it must have been written around then. It's slow groove kept everyone dancing, in fact groove is a word you could apply to the vast majority of Charlatans tracks from this (or indeed any other) era. It was a time when people lost their inhibitions and danced.

Sproston Green rounded things off in true style, with the famous sprung dancefloor in the Barrowlands taking a hammering.

Walking towards the train home  my brother and I talked about the consistency of The Charlatans material. To play for so long from one period, with so many good tracks takes some doing. In truth, the band could do this with pretty much any period from their career. A band with a special place in my heart.

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