Gig review: The Charlatans at The Garage

Tim Burgess and co demonstrated why they are still around at Fred Perry-backed gig

Andy Murray finally laid to rest Britain’s grand slam hoodoo at the US Open a few weeks ago.

It was quite fitting, then, that last week saw a big celebration of our last great tennis champion, Fred Perry – if a little odd that this should take the form of a greatest hits gig by pre-Britpop indie rockers The Charlatans.

But no matter – those who got tickets to this sell-out affair at The Garage in Highbury Corner didn’t seem to be complaining.

Tim Burgess and his band – including The Verve drummer Pete Salisbury for the night – headed a star-studded bill that also featured sets from such legendary DJs as Notting Hill stalwart Norman Jay, reggae-punk pioneer Don Letts, and The Specials’ lead singer Terry Hall.


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Rather than being strictly about the man, the event marked the 60th anniversary of Fred Perry’s clothing label, which is staking a claim to six decades of a “unique relationship with music counterculture”. I’m not sure what the Charlatans link is exactly, but apparently Terry Hall once wore a Fred Perry top in a photo.

The Charlatans demonstrated why they are still around. As they rattled through their set, incongruously standing beneath a giant Fred Perry banner reading ‘the best new music’, Tim Burgess – sporting a died-blond bowl cut – was a charismatic presence.

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Their hammond organ-driven grooves got the crowd heaving, with The Only One I Know an obvious highlight. I must admit I’d taken that title rather literally, but renditions of One to Another and North Country Boy reminded me there’s more to this band.

Don Letts and Terry Hall put in strong sets earlier in the night, although Norman Jay was too late for a school night.

Despite the faint whiff of a corporate marketing stunt, for a fiver it wasn’t half bad.

* The Charlatans played The Garage in Highbury Corner, N5, on Wednesday September 26.

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