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The Charlatans proved again why they are so revered with a career-spanning set at Invisible Wind Factory on Wednesday night, with Tim Burgess and the band are in fine form on their Head Full of Ideas tour.

Opening up were Martin Carr and What Future. Their dreamy retro vibe was an easy fit for the night, and the band were armed with a new lead guitarist playing his first night of the tour and more than happy to slap on some rock and roll whenever possible.

Carr, once of Merseyside Britpop outfit The Boo Radleys, was quick to show off his orthopaedic trainers and the first to mock his own age. It was hardly the elephant in the room, he’s only 53, but it is true that many find it easy to poke fun at the likes of him and tonight’s headliners continuing to tour.

It’s fair to say The Charlatans have been around the block a bit, though, and this gig was part of a run of dates celebrating the bands 30th anniversary, albeit a year late. In spite of the pouring December rain, a sellout crowd headed to the Invisible Wind Factory to celebrate just that.

It was the oldies that kicked us off, the shimmering Forever and cutting Weirdo brought that unmistakable baggy groove, the scene that they rose to such prominence with in the early 90s. Just When You’re Thinkin’ Things Over sounded as good as ever, seriously. Burgess’ voice was at its harmonious best, his now trademark blonde bob almost mesmeric, and Tony Rogers having a great time as always laying down the foundations for the likes of One To Another.

This tour coincides with the release of a new box set, which includes a live disc of some of their finest gigs. Ok, they would be hard pushed to recreate the euphoria of their 1994 Reading and Leeds sets or Delamere in 2007, but this tour is just as enjoyable as any other.

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Photo: The Charlatans

So Oh and Trouble Understanding from 2015’s Modern Nature are included in the set, as are Plastic Machinery and Different Days from their 2017 record. The latter is as good as they have produced post-1997 and the crowd responds to that with no obvious pit-stop track for a trip to the bar or the toilet – high praise indeed.

Perhaps it was the familiar ‘last night of freedom’ feeling in the room, or maybe it was that festive nostalgia, but this night was a true celebration of a career that has spanned 31 years and will continue into 2022 and beyond. Few bands can claim such longevity and such partisan support – but The Charlatans are indestructible and continue to deliver time and again.

The Charlatans’ remaining tour dates are:

9th Newcastle, City Hall
10th London, Brixton Academy
14th Exeter, Great Hall
16th Nottingham, Rock City
17th Leeds, O2 Academy
18th Glasgow, O2 Academy
20th Aberdeen, Music Hall
21st Edinburgh, Corn Exchange

Tickets at: https://www.thecharlatans.net/gigs

LEWIS RIDLEY

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