The Charlatans ♥ the NHS – Gorilla 15/11/21
The capacity venue is full of everyday heroes brought together under the Anderson-style corrugated roof of Manchester’s Gorilla. The Charlatans take to the stage tonight as both a warm-up show to their postponed ‘A Head Full of Ideas‘
30th, 31st Celebration Tour and also to thank and recognise the NHS.
The crowd are called to the fray by the swirling anticipation of ‘Forever’ before Tim Burgess strolls onstage to ask, ‘I wonder what you people do with your lives?’. A wide grin under a bleached bowl cut, Burgess is enjoying being back live as much as we are.
The Hammond intro to ‘Weirdo’ draws the crowd in and we’re off on a journey through a set of bangers, anthems, call them what you will, from ‘Just When You’re Thinkin’ Things Over’, to ‘Can’t Get Out of Bed, or ‘One to Another’ to album track The Blind Stagger, each one a classic. By the end of ‘North Country Boy’ we’re politely asked “what do you think?” to a roar from the audience that brings more glee to Tim’s face.
At times throughout the show, the guitar and vocals are a little lost in the mix, to the detriment of some stand out playing from Mark Collins. Some lyrics are sadly lost, particularly as the vocals still sound fresh.
Nevertheless, The Charlatans never fail to impress. Running bass locked in with pounding drums, overlayed with flawless swirling organ and rock-solid guitar – A formula that’s worked for 30+ years. By the time they get to ‘The Only One I Know’, Burgess, arms wide, preaches to the already converted.
The show is book ended by ‘Love is the Key’, the long drawn out intro suddenly picking up pace bringing the audience along for a final ride. The rhythm pounds and drives the swelling delayed guitar that paves way for a spiralling keyboard crescendo, which signals the end of the set. The band inevitably come back on stage for the ever frantic ‘How High’ and the inevitable crowd pleaser ‘Sproston Greens’ which nearly always closes the band’s shows.
The audience is in no doubt that this was no warm up show. This was a thank you and will undoubtedly be the most special show the band will play this year, not because of the band, but because of the crowd, each and everyone to-a-man a hero.
The NHS ♥ The Charlatans too.
Reviewer Lees Johnson