Archive for September, 2010

September 24, 2010

The curse of the Charlatans!

The news this week that Charlatans drummer, Jon Brooks, has been diagnosed with a brain tumor only adds to the sheer adversity of being a member of the Northwich indie band.  Eternally cursed with the worst of luck they have become as famous for their survival instincts as they have their tunes. Never to let anything get in the way of their freewheeling spirit, they have hired the services of ex Verve drummer, Pete Salisbury, for their forthcoming UK tour, another stumbling block brushed aside!

Chronological order of the curse:

1991 – Lead Guitarist – John Baker left after the first album – ‘Some Friendly’.

1991 – Got into a legal battle in the US with a band of the same name.

1992 – Keyboardist – Rob Collins imprisoned for ‘assisting an armed robbery’.    Collins claimed to have no foreknowledge of the robbery until he heard a gunshot inside the shop and his friend exited, although he later admitted that he should not have picked his friend up after he realised what he had done. At court, he pleaded guilty to the lesser charge of “assisting an offender after an offence” and served four months in prison.

1994 – Bassist – Martin Blunt had a mental breakdown and was admitted for depression therapy for several months.

1996 – Rob Collins died in a car crash in Wales during the recording of their 5th album – ‘Tellin Stories’.

1999 – Their accountant was jailed for swindling them out of £300,000, the entire proceeds from their first four albums!

2001 – Keyboardist  – Tony Rogers diagnosed with testicular cancer.  He recovered and is still a member of the band.

Now celebrating two decades as a band this is a timely reminder of the sheer resilience of The Charlatans, lets hope they can prove everyone wrong for another twenty?

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September 4, 2010

LED Festival – Victoria Park, London – Saturday – Leftfield

Leftfield, seminal dance act from the 90’s, progressive house pioneers and dub crusaders who had a reputation for playing music that literally shook your ribcage!  They were the vanguard of 90’s electronic sound and along with The Prodigy forged a career based on dynamic live performances that were equally menacing and enthralling!  So 10 years on ……..reforming without original partner Paul Daley, announcing a string of European festivals with one London show – The LED Festival at Victoria Park……… An inaugural electronic and dance festival in the heart of east London.

The small main stage and limited sound system indicated either a lack of self belief or a realisation of a diminishing fan base.  Whatever it was that encouraged Neil Barnes to sign up to play LED certainly wasn’t based on previous knowledge.   Nevertheless the performance was measured and surprisingly crowd friendly, most of the songs were from ‘Leftism’ and although the performance lacked the usual menace, the choice of set list was perfect.  It’s just a shame the execution of each song wasn’t carried out to its full potential!  Most songs sounded like they was missing a core element?  ‘Original‘ a pronounced  singer, ‘Release the Pressure’ was short of the kick bass and ‘Afro-left’ was shorn of the african strings.  Most of the songs were missing the nuances of their original form which left the crowd a little dissatisfied……..It was only when the bass was finally cranked up to its desired and required level that Leftfield didn’t feel like a shadow of their former selves.   Closing songs ‘Space Shanty‘ and ‘Phat Planet’ personified the brilliance of Leftfield in a glorious 20 minutes of sonic scapes and bass thumping ecstasy – both songs were testament to the once enthralling spectacle of a Leftfield show, it’s a shame the rest of the performance wasn’t able to recapture that spirit.