The Charlatans. Rock and roll survivors and musical shape-shifters. Here is a band that got loose and baggy with the best of the early 90’s Madchester brigade, and in the live arena they’re still more than capable of delivering on such defining glories, to the ongoing delight of long time fans and new converts alike. But it’s the bands ever-evolving creative spirit, their willingness to subtly shift musical gears across their recorded output, coupled with a resolute resolve not to yield in the face of tragic forces (namely, the untimely passing of two of the bands founding members across their 29 year journey), which brings them, once again, back to these shores, as relevant and rabidly loved as ever.
It’s little wonder then that a bulging throng of true believers is on-hand at The Triffid for the first show of their current Australian tour, greeting their arrival on stage with an exuberant roar normally reserved for football teams.
There’s not too many people that can get away with wearing a pair of overalls (or dungarees, depending on your lineage) on stage, or anywhere for that matter, while simultaneously maintaining ones coolness quotient. Irrepressible Charlatans front man Tim Burgess, these days sporting a blonde mushroom mop of a hair-do, is one such person. A man obviously in love with the moment, he holds up a camera to capture the frothing spectacle that he and his musical cohorts preside over, before launching into opening number, the sharp and bouncy ‘Total Eclipsing’, off their newest EP of the same name from earlier this year.
From there it’s a giddy trip through almost 30 years of tunes as the band traverse their impressively eclectic back catalogue. Early set highlights include the sweet and slinky ‘Emilie’, off 2014 album ‘Modern Nature’, an album which receives a hefty airing throughout tonight’s set. Meanwhile, classic mid 90’s album ‘Tellin’ Stories’, is lovingly represented with the epic indie-soul of ‘One To Another’, and later on with the warmly rousing ‘North Country Boy’.
Burgess is a charismatic figure throughout, his cheeky persona and obvious love for being ‘in the moment’ captivating hearts and eliciting swoon inducing interactions with the true believers down the front. Let him forever channel his inner dandy. And while he may be the obvious focal point, the rest of the band exude a solid and dependable presence, proving to be crucial cogs in laying down the rock solid foundations of the band’s spot-on sound. A particular highlight is the exemplary work of founding bassist Marin Blunt, as well as keyboardist Tony Rogers, who effortlessly fills the room with warm waves of cascading Hammond organ, a sound at the utter crux of the band’s musical oeuvre throughout their journey.
Things really start to heat up as the band belt out recent single ‘Plastic Machinery’, one of the highlights from last years guest laden long player, ‘Different Days’. From there we’re treated to the bouncy shudder of indie-dance delight, ‘Weirdo’, which draws all sorts of audience delirium, the band delivering it with insistent glee. And signature number and baggy-anthem ‘The Only One I Know’, bewitches and transfixes as the true believers grin and groove like it’s 1990 all over again.
After a short break, the howling crowd cajole the lads out for one last hurrah, launching into the jaunty joys of ‘Can’t Get Out of Bed’, from their third record, 1994’s ‘Up To Our Hips’. And their final number, fan favourite and long-time set closer ‘Sproston Green’, delivers fervent pandemonium on the floor, the band burning out brightly in a feast of blaze.
Thanks Charlatans, can’t wait to see you again next time.