Charlatans triumphed at their gig at THE PALACE, HOLLYWOOD, last night (March 27), supported by fellow Brit band STEREOPHONICS – and nme.com’s Los Angeles correspondent was there. Here’s what she’s got to say.
“First on were Stereophonics, lesser known than The Charlatans in the US. They appear on stage, dwarfed underneath a bikini clad female figure on a Stereophonics banner, and pretty soon drummer Stuart Cable loses the plot. His body’s gyrating, his tongue spasming, and he’s tossing his brillo-pad mullet Animal Muppet style as the band roll into ‘Pick A Part That’s New’. While it’s turning the token nutter (there’s always one) near the stage into a bouncy, fist-beating, jack-in-the-box, the band struggles to get anyone elses attention.
“Kelly’s loud and laborious vocals on songs like ‘Hurry Up and Wait’ and Cable’s off-again-on-again drumming, only furthers Hollywoods reply to it’s hopefuls: just because you’re big in Cwmaman, doesn’t mean LA gives a toss, baby.
The crowd’s full of posh, trendy types, dressed as mod, swingers, glam rockers, B-Boys, Bobby Gillespie-wannabes – and they’re all waiting for The Charlatans. With little more than a quick, “thank you” or a regurgitated song description as forms of communication, the Stereophonics certainly aren’t winning many foreign friends.
They regain some of the poise lost earlier, plowing through ‘A Thousand Trees’ and ‘Local Boy In The Photograph’ but with no eye contact from the British eye candy on stage, Kelly, people start to realize their glasses are empty and the barman is a dead ringer for Matthew Marsden.
Some 45 minutes later it’s all forgotten though – The Charlatans are on and they are big. Tim Burgess is playing to his newly adopted hometown and they are ready to give him a hero’s welcome. The gig means a lot to him, only it’s not stress that’s flushing his rosier than normal cheeks. Burgess is quite obviously poorly. Instead of the requisite beer bottle he walks on stage carrying throat spray.
They kick it all of with ‘Us and Us Only’ for an instant groove onslaught, then ‘Just Looking’ comes in as charming and endearing as ever. But then, two songs into it, things start to go wrong. Tim starts losing the battle with whatever is in his throat. It becomes more and more obvious he’s having a rough time of it: coughing between songs, wiping his runny nose on his sleeve, reaching for the throat spray. His usual floppy little head flicks, air guitar, and boyishly charming dance gestures become languid but in true Tim but he still tries to give his all. Last night at the bands warm up gig in Pomona, he was full of giddy smiles and the boundless enthusiasm of a puppy. But tonight the poor boy is endearingly, desperately trying to hang in there through ‘Just When You’re Thinking Things Over’ and ‘One to Another’, during which Tim comes across raspy enough to be a dead ringer for a ‘Go Let It Out’ Liam Gallagher.
And then they start ‘Senses’. In the presence of grandiose lofted, ceilings, among the warm orange glow of the stage lights the song becomes haunting, breeding into something epic and you can just imagine Tim pleading inside, to let his voice carry him through one more song as he opens his mouth to sing. Only in that one moment, something special happens. The vocal problem that left him speaking bits of earlier numbers or choosing different octaves, up and vanishes. And Burgess sings his bloody heart out. He soars through seven more including ‘How High’ and ‘Weirdo’ which the whole place dances to (note: they do the Liverpool Cream bloke swim dance out in California too). Until they end, as ever, with ‘Sproston Green’, only this time Tim doesn’t just leave once his vocals are done. The Los Angeles show, Tim said, meant a lot to him as he’s just moved there, and at the end he stands up front staring starry-eyed into space bathing in his triumph while the music fades away. Welcome to your new home, sweet home, Tim.”