The Scotsman - - Reviews - FIONA SHEP­HERD

James/the Char­la­tans

Hy­dro, Glas­gow


THIS smart dou­ble bill of Man­cu­nian in­die vet­er­ans com­prised one band who pre­date the Mad­ch­ester scene of the early 90s and an­other who out­lived it, the for­mer in their com­fort zone and the lat­ter in a sup­port­ing role which didn’t suit them.

The Char­la­tans have un­locked a new cre­ative lease of life over their last cou­ple of al­bums, mov­ing away from the kind of in­die an­thems that would work in such an arena set­ting to­wards a more sub­tle folk and coun­try-in­flu­enced set of trippy pop tunes.

Their open­ing set hon­oured past and present with the at­ten­dant peaks and dips in

au­di­ence en­gage­ment. Singer Tim Burgess has barely aged over the last three decades but his laid­back charm was un­able to ex­tend as far as his reedy voice which jarred through­out a per­for­mance which only re­ally got into its groove with free­wheel­ing rootsy rocker Im­pos­si­ble and epic set-closer Spros­ton Green.

James, how­ever, em­brace the arena ex­pe­ri­ence, front­man Tim Booth in par­tic­u­lar, who was fond of a foray into the­fron­trowswherethere­was head rub­bing and hugs to be had. The band hit their stride a few songs in with Waltz­ing Along’s win­ning com­bi­na­tion of in­sid­i­ous melody and sen­ti­ment and Sit Down, their Ser­mon on the Mount, which still has that gal­vanis­ing power.

Not all of the set had such im­pact but tightly wound tribal mael­strom Stut­ter was

a treat from their back pages and they stored up some em­pa­thetic gems for the en­core, in­clud­ing a new an­them Many Faces and the ever-lovely, cathar­tic Some­times with Booth drink­ing in the joy.

James front­man Tim Booth was happy hug­ging, head­rub­bing and crowd­surf­ing

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