The Charlatans + Martin Carr on 30.11.21 at O2 Academy Bournemouth
A gig from late November 2021 that I didn’t include in my blog episodes. It was a good gig with some decent photo opportunities to accompany it but it was a busy period and I just parked it for a bit. I’ve only just realised that the end dates on The Charlatans tour were lost due to Covid in the road crew.
It was down at the O2 Academy Bournemouth again. Pretty full but not sold out. Top tier ‘Gods’ seats not open.
I sat down upstairs in a corner bar during support act Martin Carr of the Boo Radleys. Nothing stirred me from the big leather settee. I was saving my legs at the time 🙄
This gig came within a busy period for me – relentless – but I’ve always liked The Charlatans, having seven of their albums – couldn’t miss it given its proximity…and it was a 30th anniverary Head Full of Ideas ‘Best of’ tour….renamed 31st, unavoidably.
Later with Jools Holland
I had the first album Some Friendly (1990) but it wasn’t until 1999 that I saw them live, and that was a weird one: BBC Later with Jools Holland.
If you get to go to a recording of Later with Jools Holland, you don’t know who’s on. It was the case back then anyway and also your free tickets don’t even guarantee you entry – I lived near Reading at the time so the gamble was not so great as it might be with it being at the Shepherd’s Bush BBC studios (it’s filmed in Maidstone these days). Queued up and got in and was then led to the waiting area – with a bar. Again no guarantees about getting in. You had numbered tickets and the bar was free – well it was then and I enjoyed it, with enthusiasm.
People were called in by ticket numbers over the next hour or so and hopes were beginning to wane as those of us left in the holding area becames less and less. A few more beers to make the most of the trip eh. They were manoeuvring the crowd around the set and finding spaces for extra audience members to fill the right spots for visual excellence. I’d given up hope. A few more beers then, why not , they were only little bottles – about 10 of us left in the holding area by then – downed those… and then our numbers were called. Where’s the gents? No time. Hmm. I needed a piss. Oh…it’ll be fine.
Oh well we are in. We get placed in the audience and told not to move. Several artists perform their first songs including Jeff Beck and Bernard Butler (Suede)…. and then… “ladies and gentlemen…The Charlatans”. (By this time my bladder was really nagging at me). The Charlatans were a lovely surprise. The album Us and Us Only was just out….. but after their first number my bladder was bursting. Another order of ‘please no movement’…another Jeff Beck song….an infeasibly long guitar solo. I’m sweating, surveying the options and clip board wielding stage managers. It was no good, I had to go….. I dived off through the black curtains and down a long corridor in a restricted area. Eventually I found some bogs without surprising any celebs or being rugby tackled by eager security guards and was able to return red faced through the black curtains without becoming a showstopper. What a relief.
A more relaxed rest of the show – three Charlatans numbers in all. Quite an experience. My first Charlatans live experience. Here’s a YouTube clip of one of the songs from that 1999 show: Forever. (No you can’t see me escaping through the curtains.)
My first proper Charlatans gig was Brighton Centre in April 2000, with them touring that late 1999 album Us and Us Only, one of my favourite 90s albums and I’d say the best Charlatans release.
It was 16 years before I caught them again: at Southampton Engine Rooms of all places. I’m not sure how they came to be playing such a relatively small venue and I must have just been lucky on a fasted finger first booking website game. That was a packed and steamy gig.
Next was a Glastonbury slot in 2019 on ‘The Other Stage’. A relaxed performance in the afternoon sunshine and I was right in front and to the left of the stage – with my bigger camera.
And on to 2021, Bournemouth O2 Academy in a post Lockdown period of going out enthusiasm, before the Omicron variant and rising disruption from Covid infection. I don’t think they can have been to Bournemouth much or I would have seen them. It’s only in the last 10 years or so that I have travelled far for gigs very often.
And what did they start with? Forever. Great choice. Tim Burgess had gone for the festive jumper – a bright one.
So many songs to pick from and I’m probably not yer average ‘Charlies’ fan but I love a couple of the more recent albums: Modern Nature (2015) and Different Days (2017). Those and Us and Us Only are my top three. Hence the mid-set back-to-back of Different Days’ title track and Plastic Machinery from that one were most welcome.
Down left, front and under the side balcony was a good spot for the pocket zoom to come out. Downside was I picked up a new grey haired gig goer’s ailment. Strained neck from peering up from a stooped position – one of those things you don’t notice at the time and makes you suffer for a week afterwards 🙄
Tim Burgess was taking mobile phone pics and selfies from the stage, social media king that he is – he really quite into his phone and kept getting it out – must have been adding to his regular Tweets.
Later in the set the gems are North Country Boy and Trouble Understanding, before the final return with the warmly welcomed Sproston Green from the first album Some Friendly.
This later backdrop featured changing nostalgic photos back through the years – a very absorbing distraction. Lots of mops of hair, trainers, hoodies and sportswear.
A wonderful selection of tunes drawn on by the band. A reflective wander through over three decades of material. Burgess leads it all with cheer – he seems a nice man eh.