– The Engine Shed, Lincoln –

The Charlatans

The Charlatans

Very few people have emerged from the last two sorry years with more goodwill than Tim Burgess. Aside from almost single-handedly reviving the long-form album format with his Twitter listening parties, he also played a hand in rescuing two of Manchester’s most sacred live music spaces, Deaf Institute and Gorilla, from extinction. You could almost forget that in his spare time between saving us all, he is still an active musician, one that has been celebrating the 30th anniversary of his time as the frontman of a beloved, chart-topping band. As The Charlatans roll their Covid-delayed anniversary tour through Lincoln tonight, however, it is clear that in fact people remember the band extremely fondly.

This is unabashedly a greatest hits set from start to finish. Burgess strides and sashays across the stage with the same quiet brashness that he did before Britpop was even a term, peering from under his blond bowl cut on occasion, but never totally losing a sense of swaggering control, while the absolute core of the band remains the connection between Tony Rogers’ organ-like keyboard riffs and Martin Blunt’s loose-hipped basslines. In this sense they exist as a hybrid of 90s scenes – yes, they invoke the original low-slung Madchester rhythms on ‘Then’ and ‘Sproston Green’, but they equally channel the trippy, strung-out psych of Stereolab and Spiritualized on tracks like ‘Sleepy Little Sunshine Boy’, while at the same time showing off a technical dexterity that justifies their pre-show playlist including names like Can, The Fall and The Supremes.

This is undeniably a nostalgia trip of a gig, with the crowd a blend of those who remember each one of those thirty years being celebrated and those who are now re-discovering them through some sort of novelty time capsule. Where Britpop took things in a Beatles direction, bands like The Charlatans and Primal Scream seemed more interested in the Stones and much of the ninety-minute set is spent lost in a reverie of dirty grooves and illicit fumes, driven by the pace of drummer Peter Salisbury, once of The Verve. ‘One to Another’, ‘North Country Boy’ and ‘The Only One I Know’ predictably give the set its most rousing and focused high points, turning The Engine Shed into a convulsing, arm-flailing mess, but more than hits of pop energy, it is the vibe that is paramount tonight and it never wanes once.

Did The Charlatans make a legendary catalogue of bangers? Well, this feature-length set proves that very few bands do, but from opener ‘Forever’ to the encore, the band struck a rich groove and stayed there for the duration, maintaining a connection with their audience throughout that felt genuine and earnest, a description that fits neatly with this band’s well-deserved legacy.

The Charlatans: Official | Facebook | Twitter

Max Pilley

I'm a refugee in Manchester, having successfully escaped Birmingham in 2007. I'm a soon-to-be journalism student, used to edit the music section of the Manchester Uni paper, and have done a little radio production to boot. I've been adding bits and pieces to Silent Radio since 2012, mostly gig reviews, but a few albums too. Also hoping now to get involved with the brilliant radio show. When doing none of that, you can usually find me at some gig venue somewhere around town.