“It’s good to be back,” exclaimed Tim Burgess, the Charlatans UK frontman whose grin stretched ear-to-ear. Sporting a peculiar, peroxide blonde Prince Valiant doo, he never seemed to cease dancing, continually raising his arms to rally the attendees below.
Not that many had to be converted. Within the sold-out show at Toronto’s Danforth Music Hall, it was apparent that the majority of the night’s audience were a mix of English ex-pats and staunch ‘Madchester’ devotees.
Opening the show with Totally Eclipsing, the following 90 minutes resulted in a cocktail of rebellious swagger, nostalgia and, in truth, a new chapter for the West Midlands natives. Since their last stop in Toronto, tragedy reared its ugly head with the band enduring the deaths of two of their members – as well as a handful of subsequent misfortunes.
However, despite the hardships, their sound remained vibrant and vital. Accompanied by Peter Sailsbury from The Verve on drums, keyboardist/organist Tony Rodgers produced a formidable groove, particularly on the band’s hypnotic classic The Only One I Know.
As the swivelling body of Tim Burgess bounced and preened onstage, the music chugged along effortlessly, rounded out by the remaining band members: bassist Martin Blunt and guitarist Mark Collins, respectively.
In truth, Burgess magically connected with concert goers by his sheer presence alone. Stopping to reach across the void and interact with fans, he said little apart from the pleasant “thank you” or the more comical “this is for all the weirdos” before playing fan favourite Weirdo. And so went the remainder of the evening.
If anything can be said about the nearly 30-year career of The Charlatans UK, it’s that their soul and spirit still burn bright.