The nature of the music industry means that trends and tastes come and go, so there is always a chance that a band won’t retain their relevance over the years. The connection to the now, to what’s ‘cool’ and what sells best in the charts never seems to stay the same. Or, at least, almost never. 12 albums in, 25 years since their first album release and fresh off of their hit US tour, it’s more than fair to say that The Charlatans have stood the test of time. What better way to celebrate 35 years of Rock City than the UK indie-rock legends opening their tour of new album ‘Modern Nature’ in the venue that they’ve got many fond memories of. The band took Nottingham by storm on Tuesday night and certainly proved how overwhelmingly relevant they still are.
Support from Sunderland five-piece Frankie and The Heartstrings and heavy-handed Riding The Low did well to warm up the growing crowd. The lead singer of the latter Paddy Considine showed off an array of mic flips, high kicks and undeniably dad-style dancing to their rock tracks. A little later The Charlatans fittingly opened their set with opening track of the new record ‘Talking In Tones’. Frontman Tim Burgess took to the stage and slipped straight into showmanship carriage: raising his hands as if to pump up the already electric crowd.
Their recently released album charted at #7 and is arguably their best yet. The new material is on a similar vibe to their previous releases, but that’s not to suggest that the band are stagnant in their approach to music writing. Their iconic fusion of garage rock, indie and soul that attracted fans in the 90’s still appeals to the masses today. The baggy Britpop comes in a quintessentially Britpop package too – Burgess carries himself with the stature of a teen: sleeves pulled down, quirkily holding the mic upside down on his head and his signature bowl-cut intact. The group stand against a visually impressive coloured backdrop with technicolour lighting effects, bringing a dreamy feel to the set.
The band rattle through the classics, warning the crowd that “Tonight’s is a looong setlist!”, which of course we were all absolutely OK with. The distinctive organ riffs of crowd-pleaser ‘The Only One I Know’ meshes well with their new classic ‘So Oh’ and the building ‘Let The Good Times Be Never Ending’. One band member down, their stand-in drummer for the evening was The Verve’s very own Pete Salisbury who did a brilliant job alongside the original members.
We discovered that my personal favourite ‘North Country Boy‘ is also Burgess’ favourite to play live and it was here where the band and crowd really came alive. He takes the time to take pictures of the crowd, later posted on social media, demonstrating how the band have moved with the times. Tellin’ Stories got a great reception too, leaving a room of sweaty and satisfied gig-goers.
Seeing these guys live was a real treat. The Charlatans have rolled with the punches and have carried Britpop through the nineties, noughties and teenies (?) with ease. One thing’s for sure: they will sail through the next leg of the tour triumphant and, no, they most certainly haven’t lost their cool.