Be My Spiderwoman I’ll Be Your Spiderman

I got a late offer of a ticket for The Charlatans last night and took it, having deliberated for a second or two. They played Albert Hall, an old Methodist Chapel on Peter Street in town, a stunning venue as this picture I borrowed from the band’s page shows- stained glass windows, a proper balcony, a good size, enough bar staff and really good sound.

I first saw The Charlatans in 1989, at Liverpool Poly and have seen them three or four times since. With twenty five years behind them they’ve got a proper greatest hits set, sprinkled with songs from the new lp (Modern Nature), none of which sounded out of place, especially So Oh (played early on) and Come Home Baby (played near the end). The organ is out the front, on stage and soundwise, especially on the groovers like opener Forever and wiggy Weirdo. Mark Collins guitar playing dominates on some of the 90s songs, How High  and a raucous North Country Boy (a song that always hits me- a friend bought me the 7″ when Isaac was born and I always associate the two). But behind the organ and guitar is the much under-appreciated bass playing of Martin Blunt, pushing everything on, 60s mod style. Tellin’ Stories is wonderful, a singalong cut through with sadness. The Only One I Know causes mass dancing. Set closer Just When You’re Thinking Things Over is glorious and ragged and One To Another, with those huge multi-tracked pianos, pounding rhythm and stream of consciousness lyrics, sounds more and more like it was written for us, y’know for me and you.

Tim Burgess, blonde hair and black leggings (!), is all smiles all night, waving to the balcony and raising hands and fists to the crowd and sings his heart out. The reception this band get is amazing, for a group who could easily have been washed up and finished several times during the last two and a half decades. The last song of the night at the end of the encore is Sproston Green. I have no end of love for this song- I saw them play it at the Royal Court in Liverpool in 1990. It took the roof of then and it does now, the tension building intro and then the explosion of organ, guitar, bass and drums. A mini psych-classic and proof that even right back at the start there was a bit more to this band.

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