Charlatans : Live It Like You Love It

This live album goes some way towards explaining their endearing endurance

It’s tempting to imagine The Charlatans walking into the Manchester Evening News Arena on December 14, 2001 and shouting “This is a fine old place! Let’s do the show right here!” After all, if there was any more of the showbiz trouper about them, they’d be wearing tap shoes and starring in a film with Mickey Rooney. Yet one of the greatest mysteries of modern pop music is how they’ve never outstayed their welcome, never succumbed to the chill waters of the nostalgia revue.

This live album goes some way towards explaining their endearing endurance, a document of a hometown gig from a band who have so many songs to fall back on they never really needed to move forward. As ‘Live It Like You Love It’ shows, though, they couldn’t help themselves and ‘Love Is The Key’ and ‘Judas’ (from last year’s ‘Wonderland’) are just as welcome as Manchester tar-pit fossils ‘Weirdo’ and ‘Sproston Green’.

If nothing else, you get proof that Tim Burgess really can sustain that medically improbable falsetto live. Usually, the most that a live album promises is an aural scrapbook for those who were there and a chance to pretend for those who weren’t. Post-Finsbury Park especially, there can be no doubt how much goodwill and fondness The Charlatans generate live. They might not spin into mercurial improv or engage in Pink Floyd pyrotechnics but for a lot of people, ‘Live It Like You Love It’ will fix good memories in one CD-shaped place. It also passes as an efficient compilation: there’s the breathless, dizzy pelt of ‘Tellin’ Stories’, the warming whiskey-sour of ‘North Country Boy’, ‘The Only One I Know’, a feat of rock’n’roll preservation that could rival Joan Collins – it’s this generous-spirited breadth of material that could save ‘Live It Like You Love It’ from the dusty archive shelves. It’s by no means essential, but like The Charlatans themselves, it’s good to know it’s there.

Victoria Segal