Growing up in Greater Manchester with two parents who came of age during the Madchester scene of the late 80s and early 90s, The Charlatans were amongst the bands that fuelled my initial interest in alternative music.
From the first time listening to their 1998 album The Melting Pot, I have been charmed by their intelligent mix of intricate instrumentation and sonic sounds. Earlier this year the band released their comeback album Different Days which boasts clever lyricism and a more polished, nuanced version of the iconic Manchester sound. With all this in mind, I was besides myself with the opportunity to see them live after all these years, however perhaps my high expectations were not quite in line with where the band is today in 2017.
To my surprise, I even spotted a couple of fans leaving well before the end of the set
Of course, their earlier work went down a treat with the die hard fans, with songs like ‘One To Another’ receiving a massive crowd reaction right from the rumble of the first notes of its infectious bass riff. This was, however, one of very few moments when the crowd, myself included, seemed to really connect with the music.
Following this, lead singer Tim Burgess thanked the crowd and introduced a song 'Plastic Machinery' from their new album; a great song that I had been intrigued to hear live. Alas, due to poor sound control in the venue – and the toll taken on Burgess’ voice over the last two decades of performing – the song, like many others from the new album, fell flat.
The mood of the crowd quickly changed from one of nostalgia and excitement to a room full of uncomfortable and confused looking Fred Perry-clad punters. To my surprise, I even spotted a couple of fans leaving well before the end of the set, some shaking their heads and complaining about what they have seen.
In short, The Charlatans should not be criticised for their ability to still produce quality and inspired music, however perhaps their ability to perform live has not stood the test of time so well.