The Charlatans show why live music should be cherished

The Charlatans play Nick Rayns LCR

The Charlatans play Nick Rayns LCR - Credit: Steve Hunt

It's 31 years since The Charlatans first formed and they've chosen to celebrate the fact with a greatest hits tour which brings them to Norwich for this Sunday evening slot at the Nick Rayns LCR.*

Coming on the back of Damon Albarn and Shed Seven gigs (bands from similar eras and with similar styles) I wondered if this gig would prove a bit of an anti-climax - but it proved to be exactly the opposite.

A sizeable crowd is present at the UEA for a splendid two-hour set which spans every era of their existence, with a good amount of early and lesser known songs thrown in to please the die-hards.

The Charlatans play Nick Rayns LCR

The Charlatans play Nick Rayns LCR - Credit: Steve Hunt

Lead singer Tim Burgess, on home soil due to the fact he has recently settled in north Norfolk, is on fine form, beaming with that big smile of his and lapping up the adulation of the audience.

I've seen the band at the same venue a couple of times in the past decade or so and while they were good gigs, if pushed I'd probably concede they weren't great gigs.

Tonight, however, feels different. Burgess' voice has grown stronger with age (and a cleaner lifestyle) and the band keep things tight, never missing a beat or a chord. Their upbeat indie with a hint of dance still sounds fresh all these years on and it's notable there's more than one or two younger people here tonight.

Some stunning visuals, made up of footage, photos and newspaper clippings from their career, played on a giant screen, really add to the occasion.

The Charlatans play Nick Rayns LCR

The Charlatans play Nick Rayns LCR - Credit: Steve Hunt

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There genuinely isn't a single song that falls flat, from the fantastically epic opening of Forever to the triumphant, closing song, Sproston Green.

Other highlights include Weirdo, Just When You're Thinking Things Over, One To Another and North Country Boy.

It's a brilliant gig and the crowd seem much more up for it than usual, something that has been a feature of the four gigs I've been to since restrictions were eased allowing gigs to be normal again.

Perhaps absence has made the heart grow stronger and many have realised live music as good as this really is something to cherish.

* A nod to excellent support act Martin Carr (ex Boo Radleys) & What Future. A very entertaining 30 minutes of thinking person's indie and a couple of Boo's songs thrown in too.

Martin Carr & What Future play Nick Rayns LCR

Martin Carr & What Future play Nick Rayns LCR - Credit: Steve Hunt

* The band actually intended to celebrate 30 years but covid cancellations put paid to that. 



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