The Charlatans arrived in Belfast tonight on the last night of their UK and Ireland tour in support of their 13th album release ‘Different Days’. They have been around the music scene since the release of their debut album ‘Some Friendly’ in 1990 and looking round a packed Limelight venue it was pretty clear that many of those in attendance had bought the album first time round, being of a certain age.
It was an early kick off for the gig and the stage was beautifully lit, a bright blue as the five members of The Charlatans strolled onto the stage to give us around twenty five songs from a huge back catalogue proving to this day that the original spirit of Madchester is alive and well in 2017.
They opened with ‘Not Forgotten’ from the ‘Different Days’ long player and from the off the mop topped Tim Burgess was in the mood to dance, albeit an indescribable dance, and those moves continued for the whole set. This was quickly followed up by ‘Just When You’re Thinkin’ Things Over’ before reverting back to a showcase of the latest album. ‘Different Days’ doesn’t stray far from the tried and tested Charlatans Manchester groove and ‘So Oh’ and ‘Over Again’ get a run out early in the set. There is no doubting the new material is well received by this appreciative audience.
‘Weirdo’ has that amazing cutting intro of the Hammond Organ that is so prevalent throughout and the old tunes continue to have the same freshness about them that they had when they were first released.
Let’s be honest, Tim Burgess is a man of few words, he probably has a thousand stories he could tell but tonight the music is doing the talking. He talks about being both sad and glad that the tour is ending………. more sad he adds.
‘Emile’ from the album ‘Modern Nature’ is a beautiful track and is accompanied on the huge stage length video screen by scenes from the 1960’s Italian film ‘La Dolce Vita’, and it provides the perfect backdrop.
‘One to Another’ sees the noise levels cranked up a notch or six. The venue is jumping at this point before we slip seamlessly into the more mellow sounds of ‘Different Days’ and ‘Plastic Machinery’. The bass is so heavy and bassist Martin Blunt can only be described in one word. Nonchalant.
Tim Burgess produces the Harmonica and breathes life into it to accompany ‘Senses (Angel On My Shoulder)’ which, without a doubt in my eyes, could slip onto side two of the classic Rolling Stones album ‘Exile on Main Street’.
When they launch into ‘North Country Boy’ it looks like they are done with the new material, save for one surprise later in the show. It has the feel of a Greatest Hits tour as the band run through ‘Tellin’ Stories’, ‘Love is The Key’, a frighteningly loud and not very often played ‘Over Rising’ before rounding this part of the set off with the song that launched a music career some 30 years ago, ‘The Only One I Know’ from their debut album, with the overriding and stirring sound of the beautiful Hammond Organ making the hairs on the back of your neck stand up. It is indeed a fabulous sound.
They return to the stage for the obligatory encore with a blinding green backdrop and with Burgess resplendent in a green ‘Sproston’ emblazoned T-Shirt they launch into ‘There Will Be Chances’, maybe a surprise choice for many from ‘Different Days’ but there is no doubting the fact this will be a staple in their encores for many a future Charlatans show. The Sproston T-Shirt is discarded to reveal a ‘Salford Lad’ T-Shirt, a homage to his musical roots.
The build up to the final song of this leg of the tour in insatiable, a crescendo that bursts into ‘Sproston Green’, reputed to be Burgess’s favourite Charlatans tune, and this audience lifts the roof off as the band crash out this fantastic piece of writing for the last time on this leg of the tour. Towards the end of the song Tim Burgess wanders off stage and leaves the remaining members of the band to finish what has been a very emotional and enjoyable evening.
They will be back but I can say it has taken until the 11th December for me to find the Gig Of The Year 2017. It was worth the wait. Photo credits: James McGreevy.