100 Shows of 2010 - #65: The Charlatans @ Black Cat, 9/9/10

Hello, my name is Megan, and I've been a Charlatans fan since 1996. For almost 15 long, happy years I have fiercely loved and been a staunch advocate for the five lovable Mancunians (ok, well, one of them is Irish, but that's splitting hairs, really), and their songs have meant more to me than most bands ever will. They are, realistically, as important to the annals of Britpop as any other band you can think of, if not moreso, because their songs still hold up well to this very day. If you're not already into them, I strongly suggest you stop reading this right now and go find an album to listen to. It's ok, I'll wait.

All set? Good. Now we can proceed. Despite my lengthy run of fangirlness, I'd only managed to see The Charlatans (or as they're sometimes called, The Charlies) twice, and neither time was here in DC. Go figure. My first Charlies show was in Atlanta, when I was 18. I borrowed a car and a friend and I drove from Tuscaloosa to Atlanta to see them (with The Dandy Warhols opening) at one hell of an amazing show. A couple of years later I had the chance to see the band in Newcastle (the one across the pond) with some friends, which was equally as amazing. But that was 2000, and it's now 2010. So you can imagine, friends, how very eager my eardrums were to once more hear the wonder that is The Charlatans. And the point of this rambling intro is that FINALLY they came back around for a show. And it was, you guessed it, amazing.

MINI RECAP: The Charlatans = Ageless Wonders! Overall Score: A

Ok, so perhaps I was gonna give my beloved Charlatans a top score regardless, but they really, really earned it, babies. They began with an incredible rendition of "Then", an oldie but most definitely a goodie. The jangle interspersed with a wee bit of darkness got the old blood pumping. And following it up with one of their biggest songs ever, "Weirdo", set the tone for an overall spectacular little set. I do have to make a confession, I haven't yet checked out the band's newest couple of records. I've been so enamored with their older stuff I just hadn't ventured over to their new stuff (I was fearing the Oasis problem, being older songs far trump newer songs). But based on what the boys stormed through at the show, I was just a little silly to have ignored their latest works. All the sound of The Charlatans is there, organ-infused with killer guitar and, of course, those Burgess-ian vocals. Oh, that voice.

The man behind the voice, Tim Burgess, was looking perhaps more like Mick Jagger than he ever has, lean and lanky and with a dark fringe that hid his intense eyes unless he brushed away the bangs. He shimmied and shuffled his way across the stage in his black wife-beater, eliciting coos from the ladies and shouts of encouragement from the lads. He looked, quite frankly, ageless. His interplay with the crowd and those impish grins did nothing to dispel the notion that he could be as young as you like. The band brought out some seriously big guns midway through the set, including a jaw-dropping version of "One To Another" (which, incidentally, includes another of my most favorite lyrics ever: "Be my Spiderwoman/I'll be your Spiderman"), "The Only One I Know", and "My Beautiful Friend", introduced charmingly by Tim as being "for our beautiful friends in DC."

More new songs filled the bulk of the set, it seemed, but we weren't deprived of the glory of older Charlatans for very long. Really old, really cheekily adorable "White Shirt" made an appearance, sounding as fresh as a daisy. "North Country Boy" really got the crowd's motor running, as it should, being such an anthem as it is. One of my favorite Charlies songs, the lazy daze of "Can't Get Out Of Bed", popped up in the encore, and the whole thing wound to a frenzy of a close with the classic "Sproston Green".

In closing, you might could say the third time was the charm. It was the smallest venue I'd ever seen The Charlatans in, and perhaps because it was ten years in the making, I found it the most enjoyable. The band looked beamingly happy to be playing for us, and we the crowd were as beamingly happy to have them play. It was a lovefest. I might be doing some major gushing here, but y'all, this is one of a handful of bands that has meant more to me than I can ever hope to express. If you don't ever listen to another word I say, well, I hope you'll make friends with The Charlatans. They're truly in a class by themselves.

mp3: Then (The Charlatans from Some Friendly)

mp3: Can't Get Out Of Bed (The Charlatans from Up To Our Hips)

(We also wish drummer Jon Brookes a speedy recovery from what ails him! Get well soon, JB)


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