The Charlatans + Frankie And The Heartstrings + Riding the Low @ o2 Academy, 12th December 2015

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So here we are at episode two of an unintended series of reviews of The Charlatans in 2015. Unintended for two reasons; firstly your reviewer can’t believe that it was only February of this year that I last covered the band for Brumlive, and secondly having realised this it can make it difficult to find new things to say

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Nevertheless I will always take the opportunity to see The Charlatans when they come around and never being short of an opinion I have to say that their year has seemed a little disjointed to me as, impressive as they were in February, they did not really push the new material from Modern Nature and they seemed to need this tour and the deluxe re-release of the album give it an extra impetus.

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Modern Nature is their highest charting album in nearly fifteen years and the fans and the wider public have embraced it.  So it was surprising to see that the set list tonight was not all that different from the one in February. Don’t get me wrong I love their back catalogue, but I’m greedy. I would have liked to hear ALL of the new songs played in the set.

Not too much has changed in ten months. Tim Burgess remains a phenomenon and although the bad blonde hair is now more Purdey than Clint Boon in style, he still carried off the whole thing and he had the crowd eating out of his hand.

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He seemed a little reserved when he came on but the well oiled crowd were well into their stride and he warmed up quickly in response. I’ve never really seen a sub-culture of fans in these gigs but there seemed to be a huge amount of Ben Sherman and Fred Perry gear on show. Either the middle-aged mods and skins just like a Saturday night out or I’ve been missing something for years.

The audience response to the support bands was a bit strange. Riding the Low, complete with Paddy Considine, went down a storm. A couple of their tunes were very good but the rest sounded a bit like what you would imagine ends up on the cutting room floor after Noel Gallagher has put an album together.  The band really enjoyed themselves which was generally infectious, and got the beery early crowd going.


I’m not too sure that Frankie and The Heartstrings really enjoyed themselves. I wonder if singer Frankie Francis has ever had to work harder on a stage this size. For what ever reason, about half of the audience did not get them. I liked them. It’s easy to make clichéd comparisons so I will. They are like a mix between Maximo Park and The Pigeon Detectives; great pop tunes with a real indie-rock undercurrent. As front man Frankie gave it loads and got very little back in return. They certainly did more than enough for me and I will be looking to get to see them again at The Rainbow in March.

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The Charlatans were predictably excellent. Once Tim had warmed up during Talking In Tones (at one point seemingly engaging in some callisthenics to liven himself up), we were into Weirdo and the mosh just got bigger and bigger with each tune, interrupted by the traditional mid set lull, comprising You’re Not Very Well and Emilie, this time around.

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Although all very familiar, it was still a great set with the encore punctuated with Tim posting pictures from his smart phone and ending as usual with Sproston Green.



Talking In Tones


North Country Boy

Oh Vanity

Bad Days

So Oh

Tellin’ Stories

Just When You’re Thinking Things Over

Trouble Understanding

Blackened Blue Eyes

Let the Good Times Be Never Ending

Here Comes A Soul Saver

You’re not Very Well


One To Another

Tall Grass

The Only One I know

Come Home Baby

I need You To know

You’re So Pretty; We’re So Pretty

Sproston Green


Review: Ian Gelling

Photographs: Stephanie Colledge

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