North country boy heads west with delightful results
Princess Pavilion, Falmouth
Review by Lee Trewhela
IT SEEMS the kings of indie are having a tough time of it in Cornwall of late.
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The Wedding Present played to a less than half full Pavilion recently and now The Charlatans’ head honcho brought his surprisingly effervescent, country-tinged solo songs to not even 100 people.
The following morning his parent band sold out a Royal Albert Hall show in memory of their drummer Jon Brookes, who died last month.
So Kernow obviously has an aversion to Manc music legends with dodgy peroxide bowl cuts.
The modern renaissance man (author, record label owner, keen tweeter, coffee producer) certainly made the most of his trip to the town. Earlier in the day he wrote a song with local children at Espressini cafe and signed copies of his autobiography, Telling Stories, at Falmouth Bookseller.
I came to this cynically – I’ve never been a fan of The Charlatans. Their Hammond-led baggy blues never accelerated out of pedestrian mode for me.
So what an unexpected delight this intimate gig was. Backed by support band Hatcham Social plus fellow Charlatan Mark Collins on acoustic guitar, Burgess whimsied his way through all but one of the songs from solo album, Oh No I Love You.
Poles apart from his day job, these songs – co-written and recorded with Lambchop’s Kurt Wagner in Nashville – are spectral country swaggers, halfway between third album Velvet Underground and Beggars Banquet-era Stones.
They ranged from the gentle falsetto groove of A Case For Vinyl, the foreboding Richard Hawley-esque Tobacco Fields and out-and-out guitar pop of The Doors Of Then.
The band were spot on and a singer I thought couldn’t sing, actually could. I take it all back.
With covers of tragedy-tainted pair Nico and Arthur Russell and inventive retreads of The Only One I Know and North Country Boy, this was a gig every bit as likeable as Burgess’s boyish grin.
Next week expect the Stone Roses to play to 40 people in a village hall near you.