Brix & The Extricated


Tim Burgess is a man who doesn’t like to see an empty space in his diary. There’s the band day job, the coffee company, book tours, and so it’s no surprise that on the same day as The Charlatans’ sold out gig at The Apollo, he’s taking part in one of those “In Conversation” events, also featuring the frontwoman of tonight’s support band, Brix Smith-Start.

It’s easy to see why the two work so well together, since both have embraced social media to connect with fans directly, both have more projects going on outside of their musical spheres, plus most importantly, Tim is also a huge Fall geek! So, when Brix strides on to the stage later that night and the opening bars of ‘Something To Lose’ kick in, it’s clear that this is a woman on a mission. Placing her own inimitable style on Fall songs, from what many regard as their best era, we get mesmerising versions of ‘US 80s-90s’ and ‘L.A.’; with ex Fall members Steve Hanley on bass, and brother Paul Hanley on drums proving a tight rhythm section, it’s the sound of a band out to make a statement.

Proving that there’s a lot more to them than just Fall covers, they combine songs from their own two albums including the Byrds-esque ‘Moonrise Kingdom’ and the feisty ‘Hollywood’ from recent album Part 2, and you can hear why the Brix-era Fall output was so melodic and ingenious. Guitar riffs weave in and out of melodic vocal lines with ease, all powered along beautifully by that pounding Hanley brothers rhythm section, and a frontwoman strutting around the stage like a woman possessed. Tim Burgess makes a surprise appearance to add vocal duties to Fall classic ‘Totally Wired’, closing a brief but brilliant set.

The Charlatans

By the time The Charlatans come on, there’s a Saturday night Mancunian party atmosphere flooding the Apollo. Launching into perennial indie classic ‘Just When You’re Thinking Things Over’, the triumphant homecoming atmosphere is cut short when the band have to leave the stage after just one sing due to technical difficulties with a stroppy sampler which is refusing to cooperate. A few bits of gaffer tape and blu-tac later (well that’s what it looked like the roadies were doing anyway!), Tim and co return to deliver a set packed with greatest hits, from ‘Weirdo’, ‘One To Another’ and ‘North Country Boy’ to the uplifting ‘Tellin’ Stories’, with Tim’s vocals in fine form, and that floppy fringe dancing along to every beat as enthusiastically as ever.

But it’s the new stuff from latest album Different Days which really adds an extra dimension to The Charlatans sound. The spoken word track ‘Future Tense’ with author Ian Rankin’s head narrating like a hologram on a huge backdrop behind the band, leads into one of their best songs in recent years, ‘Plastic Machinery’, with its spiky guitar riffs and rousing chorus. Newbies ‘Spinning Out’ and ‘Hey Sunrise’, also from Different Days, sound as enthralling as the long-standing indie anthems. Rounding off proceedings with a mind-blowingly great version of ‘Sproston Green’ with New Order’s Stephen Morris on drums, it’s a fitting end to a triumphant gig by one of the Northwest’s finest.

The Charlatans: Official | Facebook | Twitter

Brix & The Extricated: Facebook | Twitter

From the early days of creating handmade zines, in a DIY paper and glue style, interviewing bands around town, then pestering Piccadilly Records to sell them, to writing for various independent mags such as Chimp and Ablaze, writing about the music I love is still a great passion. After testing the music industry waters in London with stints at various labels, being back in my hometown again, writing about this city’s vibrant music scene is as exciting as ever. All time favourite bands include Sonic Youth, Nick Cave, Patti Smith although anything from electro to folk via blues and pysch rock will also do nicely too. A great album, is simply a great album, regardless of whatever musical cage you put it in.