TVD Live Shots: The Charlatans at Brixton Academy, 12/10

Yet another reason I love living in the UK: Brit-pop icons The Charlatans playing a sold-out gig at the legendary Brixton Academy. Wrapping up a rollercoaster of a year, and on the brink of yet another lockdown, I was thrilled that the show would go on despite a raging variant.

Having lived in the States, I first discovered The Charlatans during the ’90s Brit-pop invasion when major labels were frantically signing promising bands with a buzz from the UK to export to the States. While some became household names, others created amazing albums and topped the charts across Europe. Up to Our Hips, the self-titled release, and Tellin’ Stories were staples in my collection at the time, and while The Charlatans did have a taste of success in the US, it was nothing like what they had in the UK.

Most recently, frontman Tim Burgess has been all the rage in the UK with his incredibly creative approach to connecting with fans during lockdown through #Tim’sTwitterListeningParty—another example of creativity thriving within constraints (not ideal, of course, but a silver lining). What started last year with The Charlatans’ 1990 album Some Friendly, live-tweeting the record to help fans through “Lockdown Day” caught fire.

Over 1,000 listening parties later, Liam Gallagher and Paul McCartney made headlines by participating, which seemed to be unbeatable engagement. That was until Bruce (almighty) Dickinson and Co. came along for the appropriately numbered 666th party to celebrate the Iron Maiden classic Powerslave. All this excitement and fun has culminated in the recently released Tim’s Twitter Listening Party Book which is highly recommended. 

But back to the show. The 31st anniversary best of tour was twenty-one absolute bangers from start to finish. Opening with “Forever” from 1999’s Us and Us Only, right into the oddball hit “Weirdo,” and then right back into the groove with “Can’t Get Out of Bed” brought me right back to the first time I heard the band. Nothing was off the table for this gig, and the fans’ reaction was immediate.

The Charlatans, led by the enigmatic Burgess, looked right at home in front of the capacity crowd. Once the first note hit, the audience was dancing the rest of the night. Throw a bit of booze into the mix, and it felt like we were all celebrating New Year’s Eve a few weeks early. While the band has a knack for writing those classic Brit-pop hooks that we all know and love, don’t let that fool you. They are a full-on rock ‘n’ roll band with some jams that would make Deep Purple in their prime jealous, or envious, one of the two.

I can’t say enough good things about this band or this gig, but I’ll leave you with the fact that their best of/ rarities collection A Head Full of Ideas is now available on vinyl, and it sounds terrific. PS: There’s a great story circling Twitter about singer Tim Burgess stepping out for a photo of the venue marquee before the gig and bumping into a fan doing the same. The fan doesn’t recognize Burgess but asks if he’ll be at the show to which he replies, “Yep, I’ll be down the front for sure.” The fan replies, “Might see you in there.”

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