Review | Tim Burgess at The Wedgewood Rooms, Southsea: 'An admirable commitment to not wallowing in the past'

The house lights go down and with little sense of occasion the six-piece band ambles on before Tim Burgess strolls up to the mic, straps on a guitar and announces with little ceremony: ‘We’re going to play some nice music.’

Friday, 1st October 2021, 3:14 pm
Tim Burgess at The Wedgewood Rooms, September 23, 2021. Picture by Chris Broom

This is the long-delayed tour for Tim’s most recent album, I Love The New Sky, which was released way back last May.

As such, the setlist leans heavily on the new album, and of the remaining songs played tonight, two are from an EP that’s come out since the album, one’s a brand new track and only two others delve into his back catalogue.

It certainly gives the impression of an artist who doesn’t want to rest on his laurels.

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Tim Burgess in the ascendant at The Wedgewood Rooms. Picture by Chris Broom

Given that this is his fifth solo album, not to mention the 13 Charlatans albums he’s fronted, it’s an admirable commitment to not wallowing in the past, which he could quite easily do – and many fans would arguably prefer him to do.

For this latest iteration of his band he is surrounded by top-notch musicians – from former Julian Cope and Spiritualized wingman Thighpaulsandra, to long-term Dexys Midnight Runners’ violinist Helen O’Hara and Jenny Hirons, imported from LA on keys.

Previous single Empathy for The Devil is a rather jaunty number, while Sweet Old Sorry Me features some gorgeous violin, and Lucky Creatures arrives on the back of a martial beat from drummer (and I Love The New Sky’s producer) Daniel O’Sullivan. New song, Curiosity features a frenetic squelchy synth line. No two songs sound alike.

Oh My Corazon, from his 2003 solo debut, the country-tinged I Believe sparks a welcome sing-along.

Burgess is clearly enjoying himself, judging by the enormous smile plastered across his face for much of the show.

And he’s chatty too, we learn his T-shirt of seminal punks The Slits is a new purchase from a shop ‘up the road’ earlier that day (probably Albert Road’s Dress Code), but he reins himself in when he tells us they have to finish by 10.30pm because he’s got one of his Twitter Listening Parties to host.

The encore begins with what a gradually building slice of organic psychedelic house.

It hits its groove and is locked in but it’s only when Burgess begins singing that the penny drops – it’s The Charlatans first big hit, The Only One I Know from way back in 1990. The reworking goes down a storm, and all too soon it’s over.

With this band staying together for his next solo album, there’s an obvious joy visible in their playing.

There is plenty of potential in this line-up bristling with talent.

And for those hankering for The Charlatans – Burgess is back with them for a (belated) 30th anniversary tour.

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