The Charlatans at the O2 Academy Glasgow, 18th May 2022

The heavy, heavy nonstop Manchester sound. The nonchalance that indie kids can only dream of and the
dance moves of those who have been on uppers for 8 hours straight. Oh yes, the Charlatans are here, and
whipping the crowd to a frenzy with their slick sound production and echoing riffs. That incessant
jangling beat calls to mind raves from days gone by, presided over by the nascent vocals of Tim Burgess,
their lead singer.
From the moment we arrive, fifteen minutes before the Charlatans are supposed to begin their set, the air
is heavy with the excitement of a gig sure to transport the audience back to their student days. Frantic
dancing is surely mandatory.
From a vantage point looking over the crowd and the stage, I spot trails of vapour rising into the blue light
of the set, presumably from those people who might once have been smokers, huddled outside indie
venues in tattered clothing, sweaty from revelric cavorting. The passing of time, however, has not
stopped their exuberance. Ten minutes to go, and fists are shaking into the air in pure anticipation.
This tension may stem from the fact that, for many still, this will be one of the first ‘big’ gigs back after
covid, tempted from the safety homes to the roar of the crowd to see old favourites. In this curiously
charged atmosphere (helped no doubt by the Rangers football match happening at that very instant – I
even see a few blokes checking the scores throughout the gig), the grandeur of the Glasgow O2, the Art
Nouveau gold detailing in this old building hangs tantalisingly still against the raucous feet stamping and
shifting above them and around me. Standing next to a balustrade by the sound-booth, I am next to denim
legs jogging in excited anticipation
The music stops, the crowd cheers in anticipation … and then the music starts again. Avast. They are
experts at extorting suspense. But, there is movement on stage. Suddenly, the Charlatans are there,
playing their titillating hardest from the very get-go.
The Charlatans embody the kind of nonchalance – an easy, almost lazily commanding stage presence as
Tim Burgess thrusts and thrusts around in the dance of a veteran raver . But this is exactly their territory;
hailing from the Madchester scene, they retain the energy and charisma of students taking the piss and
having a laugh. This is what makes them incredibly charismatic – it is clearly still a joy to them – a
refreshing and invigorating outlook after surely many years of touring.
This outlook is emphasised by the choice of video projected behind them, the four shapes of the band
silhouetted against it. It is a montage of their touring days. The meaning is clear; here they still perform
their energetic and nonchalant best. The sound is eerily spot on; Burgess hits every single note, his nasal
accent lending an ironic tone to the lyrics in a true English style. They play their new single, Sleepy Little
Sunshine Boy, and the the crowd loves it – through a forest of hands in the air I see a few balanced on
shoulders, swaying to the unmistakably indie riffs and the powerful bass notes lazily plucked through this
sneery and funkadelic song. There is undeniably a lot of effort put into this execution, everything
carefully designed to add to the experience, right down to the orange and pink lights just screaming
psychedelia. The high quality sound production enables their highly polished sound too. They are
incredibly cohesive and practised, making every move and sound look easy. They cut an eclectic
presence, and Burgess chats with the audience between songs, taking a poetry break, which is received
with a hushed and respectful silence. There is a great amount of cohesion between the performers and the
crowd tonight.
If there is one thing that seems reductive from the indie paradise created in the O2 , it would be Tim
Burgess taking his phone out and filming himself not once but about five times throughout the set. It
seems a rather juvenile move considering he should be used to the excitement of the crowd, rather than
insisting he captures it himself. Perhaps it is a little sweet? The desire to capture and remember the control
they held over the audience. If we’re talking photographic media, however, Rosie Sco captures some
incredible shots of the performance, my personal favourite being Rob Collins on keyboard looking for his
cue; something I think captures the night rather well. Performance is an art when dealt with in a precise
but passionate manner.
Overall, I leave that building quietly contemplative at the power of music to transport people to the state
of utter cohesion, whisked on a ride of slick and fast paced performance, everything just so to create such
a purely enjoyable experience.

By Rosie Lowndes (She/Her)

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