Formed in the West Midlands, a frontman from Cheshire and with a vast association with the Madchester scene, The Charlatans roots are somewhat confusing. But tonight, they make Camden their home.
For the first time in its twenty six year history, this evening the Q awards opens its doors in Camden and mixes the fans with the musicians. It’s not everyday you catch a glimpse of The Smiths legend Johnny Marr sipping a lemonade whilst chatting with fans. In addition, to conclude the ceremony, indie icons The Charlatans perform a full headline slot. We are in for a treat.
Bar a few tracks taken from last years superb ‘Modern Nature’ LP, Tim Burgess and Co take us back to the 90’s. For an hour and a quarter music becomes exciting again.
Besides drawing influences from seminal bands such as New Order and Joy Division, The Charlatans still hold a refreshing, individual sound. With many tracks being dominated by keyboards and organs, embodied with deep bass lines and dance beats. It’s almost a genre of their own.
Their most successful and historic LP ‘Tellin Stories’ from 1997 dictates the set. ‘With No Shoes’, ‘North Country Boy’ and the record’s title track itself are all played consecutively. A flawless start.
Approaching fifty and having spent half his years with his band, which by his own admission has involved regular drug usage and alcohol abuse, time should inevitably have taken its toll. Yet vocally tonight he sounds much about the same and hits the notes as if he’s always been teetotal. Remarkable.
The keyboards are in full swing for the unmistakable ‘Just When You’re Thinking Things Over’, taken from 1995’s eponymous LP. In a similar vein, soon after, the quintessential piano riff of ‘One To Another’ sounds. Noticeably the crowd are really moving, and not just at the front. It’s not just arms in the air stuff, people are dancing to these classic beats. The Hacienda has seemingly reopened and moved south for the evening.
There’s also room for one of their most recognisable and popiest ever recordings, ‘Can’t Get Out Of Bed’ Burgess sings. Camden is delighted he did. A track that really sums up the nostalgia of the Britpop era in a mere three minutes. An hour or so in and the fans evidently approve of the band’s song choices. It’s the perfect greatest hits set. It’s a one off gig and any self indulgent plugging of any soon to be released material is absent. They’ve got it spot on.
Arguably the band’s most famous and unquestionably biggest selling single is up next; ‘The Only One I Know’ is four minutes of psychedelic brilliance. With touches of soul and R&B blended with their trademark indie sound, it’s pure Charlatans. Tonight it is replicated live impeccably. Guitar riffs, bass riffs and keyboard riffs. There’s almost too much to dance to. The crowd are doing their best.
After turning the amps up and blasting out ‘How High’, the band wonder off stage as everyone in attendance put their hands together in appreciation. A quick dash to the bar and five minutes later, upon their return, The Roundhouse transforms in to a vivid wave of green light. Impressive stage effects for the encore, ‘Sproston Green’.
The Q Awards is one of the industry’s most prestigious events attended by musics very best. Tonight, The Charlatans are just that.