With the loss of two of their original members–most recently drummer Jon Brookes whom lost his battle with a brain tumor in 2013–it could be argued that the Charlatans as a band have lost the very essence that propelled them to success in the mid-90’s.
However, the release of their most recent album “Modern Nature” shows all the qualities of an all- round solid record, not straying too far from the dance-orientated rhythms and deafening organs that were to define tunes such as “The Only One I Know” and “Sproston Green”. In this regard, the Charlatans appeared as a band re-vitalized, as front man Tim Burgess begins the night by proclaiming a “Big Saturday”: he certainly didn’t disappoint. Burgess’s energy and antics on stage proved to be the medium through which his distinctly middle-aged crowd could re-live the glory years that Madchester encompassed.
The Charlatans raucous set list included notable sing-along tunes such as “North Country Boy” , serving to further fire-up a sold out Leeds crowd. Most amazing about this gig was their incredible energy, especially considering all members are in there late 40’s. This, coinciding with the influence of the underground techno/house movements of the early 90’s, produces a sound unique to the Charlatans and fuels their gigs to give the audience a somewhat alternative experience to the more convectional sounds of the bland rock ‘n’ roll scene of today.
It seems therefore that a band previously branded as outdated and a relic of its time is still kicking and screaming, and to some extent flying the flag for the Madchester generation. It would be unfair however to go through this review and fail to mention the impressive support act in the form of the Blossoms: hailing from Stockport, their somewhat grungy undertones and powerfully heavy rifts serve to break the monotony of today’s popularised music. This was most visible within their most recent single ‘Cut Me and I’ll Bleed’. Credit goes out to lead guitarist, Josh Dewhurst, with incredible stage presence and flawless chord progressions that conspicuously form the backbone of the band.
To conclude: the Charlatans are a band that has stood the test of time. Their dedication to Madchester is reflected in both their album production and the style of their performance on Saturday, which deserves great credit. Gone are the days in which bands are defiant in the face of a changing music industry. The Charlatans not only defied the odds as a band seemingly weaker than their Mancunian counterparts, they thrived and continue to deliver time and time again.By Tim Weston