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North Country Boys Hit The Road – The Charlatans + Shaun Ryder, Nottingham Rock City, 12/10/10

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I’m going to stick my neck out now – never really ‘got’ the Charlatans, even back in 1991. Yes, they’ve had some quality tracks, yes, they’ve stood the test of time, yes they can still pack out gigs at £25 a pop and yes they still attract a massive following. But to me, ‘Madchester’ was the Stone Roses, Happy Mondays, New Fast Automatic Dafodils (who?) and Primal Scream in Screamadelica mode.

After blowing away a delirious crowd in Nottingham’s Rock City last night though, I started feeling like I was in a minority of one.

A sell out crowd was revved right up by Shaun Ryder ripping through some absolute classics from the Mondays and Black Grape. He was brilliantly supported by (probably more talented) male and female vocalists doing everything from ‘Step On’ to ‘Tamiziparty’ and ‘Reverend Black Grape’. I saw Shaun three times with the Happy Mondays – Sheffield Octagon (brilliant), supporting New Order at the NEC (dreadful) and in the Amsterdam Paradiso in 1990 – seriously why did I bother.  But last night, 20 years on, he was probably more coherent than I have ever seen him, he and the band were worth the money on their own.

So by the time the Charlatans hit the stage, the Rock City was absolutely buzzing. Launching with Wierdo, Then, Forever, Telling Stories and The Only One I Know, the boys then moved onto newer stuff, with predictable results… respectful appreciation but a distinct lack of partying. However, if the tempo ever dropped the band would then pick up with an absolute gem like ‘One to Another’.

The last time I thought the Rock City roof would be lifted off by a demented crowd going wild for a great song was at the end of the NME poll winners party a few years ago. The night had progressed from greatness to brilliance from the Futureheads, Bloc Party and the Kaiser Chiefs – by the time headline act, Killers, did ‘Mr Brightside’, I had literally never in 25 years of gig going seen a crowd go so wild.

Last night though was its equal – when North Country Boy was blasted out, I was almost converted to loving the Charlatans… if you get chance, don’t miss this tour. Retro at its best.

Catch them throughout October in Leeds, Sheffield, Manchester, Birmingham Oxford, Bristol, Norwich and London, with a Christmas live session in London in December.

Many thanks to Gordon Machray for the photograph.

By Stu on October 13, 2010


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