The Charlatans
Deadbeat Echoes
Manchester Apollo
June 1st 2012

Man, this was one loud gig.

I’ve seen Motörhead several times and survived but this was louder. Loud in a good way though. Crystal clear loud with every note under the microscope. Good job the Charlatans were bang on form, perhaps sounding the best I’ve ever heard them, shit tight and full of intense passion playing to a sweat soaked packed house. dealing out the tunes from their classic Tellin Stories album.

Support tonight comes from Deadbeat Echoes, who suddenly sound like real contenders.

Look I know I’m biased, I put out their debut single, but they are a fantastic group. Two years ago I got into them when someone dumped a YouTube  clip onto my Facebook very modern! The song was great, garage rock meets northern attitude, a youthful rush of teenage kicks, they have run with this template since then but tonight sound gigantic. This is a proper full on avalanche of noise and confusion couched in great songs. They have a new guitarist who switches from fuzzboz riffing to trip out lead lines that takes the band to another place. Last time I saw them they were boys ful of promise now they seem to have grown up, toughened up and play a set full of attitude and raw power. They didn’t look like a support band but like a band headlining the Apollo.


I felt proud.

Headliners The Charlatans are in first gear. They are on a winner. Tellin Stories comes from a time that means sommuch to people. A time when bands ruled the roost and groups like this were folk heroes. The album was the band at the peak of their mid nineties comeback, they had initially come out of  in 1990  with the perfect credentials, the right trippy twist on guitar classic but with that brilliant Hammond played by the late Rob Collins that defined their sound and in Tim Burgess a charismatic, waif like frontman who was so immersed in pop culture that he totally understood the moment.

They seem to have faded slightly after their initial break through when it all went of fashion but when Britpop came along in the mid nineties and the rest of the UK bands appropriated the Madhcester sound and branded it as another scene under the Britpop monicker, the Charlatans rose up again. Here they were in the middle of this putting out their best album and reclaiming their rightful pace at the top of the album charts which grabbed the moment with its fusion of northern vowels, Rolling Stones blues, Dylan licks and classic record collections but twisted through the band’s own distinctive sound. It was a great record and played in full tonight underlines it’s brilliance.

Tim Burgess is still the charismatic frontman, unchanged through decades of work at the coal face of rock n roll, his recent autobiography details a hairy existence in the middle of this madness yet somehow he remains the eternal pop kid, unlined by the excess and still brimming with enthusiasm as evidenced by his boutique record label and his endless tweeting. Full of life his voice sounds stronger than years ago belting out the songs from underneath his peroxide Brian Jones style mop, standing sideways across the stage the anti frontman with the charisma to fuck with the role. 

They chuck in some b sides and play the hits, it may be an exercise in nostalgia but it also sounds bang up to date and in this year when the north has risen again it all makes total sense. The encore is even longer than the set, with hits like the perfect Weirdo and the Only One I Know cranking up the atmosphere before the climatic set ended Sproston Green brings the house down.

Where do The Charlatans go from here? There is a lot of love for the band. Before the gig an endless stream of people come up with talk of how much the band mean to them. They could replay their classic albums for ever but it would be great to see if this band, the ultimate in survivors who have survived members dying, illnesses and business disasters claw their way back to the top of the pile. 

In their ranks they certainly have the talent to do this, the next twelve months could well be very interesting.

Previous articleVarious Artists ‘Make It Your Sound, Make It Your Scene – Vanguard Records & The 1960s Musical Revolution’ – album review
Next article‘Wayward Daughter: An Official biography of Eliza Carthy’ – book review
Award winning journalist and boss of Louder Than War. In a 30 year music writing career, John was the first to write about bands such as Stone Roses and Nirvana and has several best selling music books to his name. He constantly tours the world with Goldblade and the Membranes playing gigs or doing spoken word and speaking at music conferences.


  1. Brilliant review John. You seem to always nail the magic of performance into a great read. Well done. Last night was as always is. For me it’s some 22 years of gigs. The Charlatans should be playing Wembley Stadium this summer. Lesser bands with lesser material have enjoyed more scope. Yet i would argue The Charlatans will last the course of rock and roll time, in rich tapestry. Thank you for last night. Amazing, talented band with a ridiculous back catalogue of stand out albums. Cheers!


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here