When one of the biggest-selling rock bands in the world pull out of your festival at the last minute (get well soon, Snow Patrol drummer Johnny McDaid), who you gonna call? Only one of the most feel-good bands around, that’s who. Tim Burgess arrives on the Other Stage like a dungaree’d indie saviour, offering Glastonbury uplifting anthems in place of worthy plodding, leading The Charlatans into ‘Let The Good Times Be Never Ending’ and doing his damndest to live up to the promise.
These are heartening days for The Charlatans. Their last two records have seen them storm back into the Top Ten like an even baggier James and a spiralling masterpiece like ‘Come Home Baby’ is cold, hard proof that they’ve still got whatever they had in the ‘90s in spades. But they know their role well, and deviate little from the monster retro hits. ‘One To Another’ tumbles out, baggier than Big Narstie’s pant elastic. ‘North Country Boy’ and ‘Just When You’re Thinking Things Over’ are wonderful reminders that, where the likes of Primal Scream, The Jesus & Mary Chain and Ride failed, The Charlatans dipped their toes into dustbowl country rock and survived with their integrity intact. And ‘Weirdo’ and ‘The Only One I Know’ set off mass dad-frugging across the entire field. These are well-practiced party starters, and their skills remain ultra-sharp.
When they do stray into less populist territory, results are mixed. ‘Plastic Machinery’ is fine austere dance rock, but ‘Different Days’ is an angular and cranky sort of oddity, if strangely pretty. But even here Burgess’s sunny demeanour and Mark Collins’ glowering guitars carry them through, and a sprawling ‘Sproston Green’ rolls by as wide-eyed and confident as it did in 1990. This is what’s called in the trade ‘doing a Pulp’.