Live Reviews

The Charlatans – Gorilla, Manchester: Live Review

The Charlatans kick off a busy end to 2021 with a dazzling, hit laden show for the great workers of the NHS.

Throughout the course of the pandemic, The Charlatans, or more Tim Burgess, have helped connect people through the power of music through Twitter listening parties. As the country opens up further, The Charlatans announced a free concert for NHS workers at Gorilla in Manchester. Serving as a thank you for the workers and perhaps a little tour warm up, The Charlatans demonstrated why they have such an enduring appeal during the concert.

An immediate trip back to the late 90’s opens the show with the swirling Forever. The bassline of this track is something special and in the small confines of Gorilla it rumbles around the venue. It isn’t the first time that Martin Blunt’s bass takes centre stage amongst the mix. The throbbing pulse of Weirdo, the funk of You’re So Pretty, We’re So Pretty and the drive of The Only One I Know all bring the vibration.

For the duration of the set the band dish up plenty of hits, however there are some real curveballs included in the set. ‘We’ve never played this before, live,’ states Tim Burgess before Sleepy Little Sunshine Boy; a B-side to 1999’s Forever single. Burgess channels his inner Dylan in the ‘Oh yes it is’ vocal line and Mark Collins showcases his versatility as a guitarist moving between crunchy riffs and slide guitar.

Tim Burgess on stage at Manchester Gorilla sporting the Charlatans/NHS t-shirt.
Picture: Nathan Whittaker

Another lesser spotted cut from the same era is Blind Stagger. Again, Collins wows on guitar… ‘It’s good to play that one again,’ remarks Burgess at the end. It’s Tim Burgess who radiates energy from the front of the stage. Constant acknowledgement of the crowd that seem to surround the stage pleases all. He even humours a particularly loud person determined to make his seemingly wrong side of tipsy presence felt. An unrelenting grin throughout shows an unequivocal love of his ‘day job.’

It’s hard not to love Burgess as he sings and feels every word of hits like One To Another, North Country Boy, Just When You’re Thinking Things Over, Can’t Get Out Of Bed and How High. There are arms aloft and pints swaying as each and every huge chorus is lapped up with Burgess filming the crowd on his phone; ‘I’m just taking pictures of you taking pictures of me!’ he quips.

The other driving force of the band is Tony Rogers. His late 60’s Beatles style keys and swirling Hammond organ weave between the rich tapestry that The Charlatans produce, with special nods to Oh! Vanity and the aforementioned Just When You’re Thinking Things Over.

In amongst the hits are nods to latter day records in Different Days, Plastic Machinery and Trouble Understanding. All are received well but fever pitch is reached as the closing of The Only One I Know sees Tim Burgess announce that ‘most bands would end on that one…but we’re not like other bands’ as they cap off a main set with Love Is The Key. And it certainly is.

Returning for an encore decked out in a Charlatans/NHS shirt, Burgess leads the band through a storming rendition of How High before the always epic and obligatory closer of Sproston Green. It’s been a while since crowds have cheered in the rapturous way they did at Gorilla for The Charlatans.

The Charlatans are a British institution; they have navigated tragedy in their ranks throughout their career and to see them still producing high quality music and emphatic shows gives so much hope. All this in addition to the fact that this gig was a celebration for NHS workers and the work that they have valiantly do every single day and have done throughout the pandemic.

For anyone with tickets for the forthcoming anniversary tour, you are in for a treat. This band have never sounded better or more powerful in the live arena.

Listen to Sleepy Little Sunshine Boy below. and check out the forthcoming tour dates for the band here.

The Charlatans: Website / Twitter / Facebook / Instagram

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