Personally a big fan of The Charlatans, Us & Us Only still ranks as one of my favourite albums so I was delighted when Alan Brady emailed me though a review of their show in the Olympia. I have seen them live maybe six times over the years and I can’t say I ever felt short changed. Anyway, thanks to Alan for the review and how nice is it to be talking about gigs again. Take it away Alan.
What has been one of the most irritating things about the whole Corona Virus lockdown which has engulfed us in this country for the last two years? Possibly it has to be the lack of a live music gig, and the opportunity to go to a rock concert in a dark, wedged Olympia Theatre. Well the Charlatans ended that drought in superb fashion in late November, with a newly long blonde-haired Tim Burgess and co. thrilling the audience in what is surely the best music venue in Dublin.
The task of providing support for the West Midlands, England act lay at the feet of Aoife Nessa Frances, and the pop and folk Dublin songwriter duly began her set in a relaxed and leisurely manner with ‘Blow Up’ – a tune from her debut album ‘Land Of No Junction’ (2020). Maeve McKenna on the harp supplemented Frances’ singing and guitar playing, although it must be noted that the consequences were varied. The pair performed a lot of songs from Frances’ upcoming new album, which the Sallynoggin-originated singer told us won’t be released for a considerable period of time. The packed audience was enamored by her reverberating singing and guitar strumming, which firmly got the spectators in the humor for the headline act.
Enter the Charlatans – led by the strangely haired Burgess in his eccentric jumper – who were on top form from start to finish of their 23-song set. Proceedings were set in motion with a long intro to ‘Forever’, during which a very enthusiastic looking Burgess danced onstage to rapturous applause. Some of the best performed tunes were ‘Just When You’re Thinking Things Over’, ‘Can’t Get Out of Bed’, and ‘A Needs To Be Told’ – in which the steel guitar was somehow bestowed on keyboards.
Mark Collins was in superb form throughout as his riffs on songs such as ‘One To Another’ and ‘North Country Boy’ – encouraged the crowd to firmly bop – with Burgess duly egging them on to do so. Fans loudly sang along to the latter tune as those in attendance were now seriously in concert mood, and thunderous applause appropriately ensued. ‘How High’ was another ballad to see the voice-level raised around the one-hundred and sixty-six year-old venue.
‘The Blind Stagger’ built up in a slow and leisurely fashion, whilst conversely the audience was treated to an ecstatic rendition of ‘The Only One I Know’; and those present were further treated with a fantastic version of ‘ I Never Want An Easy Life’. The encore possibly encompassed the best-performed songs, as a harmonica-wielding Burgess led the way in an energetic version of ‘Impossible’, before their customary set-closer ‘Sproston Green’ – which again contained Collins displaying various burly guitar riffs – ended proceedings.
All in all, a thoroughly enjoyable evening, and although it’s been a tough two years for us fans of live music in Ireland, it was fantastic to see Burgess, Collins, Martin Blunt and Tony Rogers provide all at the famous Dublin Two venue with their fix of entertainment again.