Aocentuating the positive *
No one predicted that The Charlatans would bounce back as strong as ever. but 4 their sold—out Barrowland i show has proved that they‘re far from a spent force. Fiona Shepherd spoke to singer Tim Burgess
When The Charlatans last played in Glasgow. one year ago at 'l'ratrrway for Sound City. theirs was one of the first of the week‘s concerts to sell out. Despite the obviotts live-for-radio restrictions on their performance. they turned in a celebratory set of full- bodied pop with latent ‘cpic' tendencies to a crowd as young and frenzied as any they played to at the height of their baggy supernova period in I990. All this obviorrs success was j regarded as a bit contrary to ‘ expectations. After all. the trendsetter's hadn't even pencilled in a Charlatans renaissance.
A year later and a whole. um. one solitary single down the line and The Charlatans‘ Barrowland show has been sold out for weeks. The renaissance has become a residency.
On speaking to singer Tim Burgess. it turns out that the group we’ll see shortly is truly relaxed and contented. following a tourist trip to New York and their tour manager‘s wedding in
rm:— Sharon’s ‘ main squeeze :
There’s a delightful little Cary Larson cartoon that says it all. Above, a sunny queue of people being admitted through the Pearly Gates. As their names are ticked off the register, an angel greets them with ‘Welcome to Heaven, here’s your harp.’ Below, in twilight, light by ﬂames, a creature with forked tail and trident intones to an equivalent miserable assemny ‘Welcome to Hell, here’s your
Sharon Shannon: a rare zest for the accordion
l.as Vegas (‘It was the best wedding l've ever been to and it was actually for someone I liked' ). whereas the seemingly superconlidcnt l‘)‘)~l model was a band getting used to being a group again following Rob (‘ollins‘ tenure in prison.
‘I think we were probably pretty nervous but at the time it felt as if we were doing all right.‘ says Burgess. According to guitarist .‘vlark (‘ollins at the time. Up '1}: ()ur Ill/iv was an approximation of the band‘s mental state. He wouldn't say if it meant things rising up to swamp tlrenr or the group wading otrt of the deep water. With hindsight. Burgess can see this ambivalence and notes the contrast with their new material twhich will form their as-yet-tmtitled fourth album in June or July).
‘For this one at least there was all five of us there all at the sanre time with no major worries apart front getting the music right.‘ he says.
There‘s a new dotrblc .v\-sided single out. 'Just Looking/Bullet Comes”.
accordion.’ What has the squeeze box done to deserve such calumny?
Well, in the wrong hands, and there have been many, it can be noisy, brutal, wheezy and dissonant. It has also been the instrument of the ubiquitous country dance band, a musical form which, despite the protestations of Robbie Shepherd, has long settled into unimaginative rote- playing. The current vogue for MlDI’d accordions, a chips-with-everything electronic orchestra incorporating multi-voicings, rhythm section and swirling LED illuminated switches. This alienates the poor souls who stumble into a Highland hotel seeking the gentle strains of Caeldom and end up cradling their Talisker under a barrage of TV themes and Continental competition pieces.
All is not lost, however, as the success of a slight, modest, but spectacularly confident young Irish woman has proved. There can be few in the world of folk and traditional music, and increasingly in the rock realm, who haven’t heard of Sharon Shannon. Her music, whether on the simple push-pull melodeon, or her l
Tim Burgess: up to his hips
with the same easy-going charm and nasal heavily-accented vocals as exhibited on ‘(‘rashing ln‘. One side is like ()asis or The Stones rather than Beatles guitar workout mode: the other is keyboard-propelled and. yes. as departures go. it‘s about as radical as the 4pm to lidinburgh Waverley. btrt Burgess still reckons there‘s a different feel to the recordings that rrrakc up the forthcoming l.l’.
"This one‘s got a bit nrorc of a How to it. The songs are all pretty optimistic. They sound a bit happier than the last one. It‘s simple but it‘s got more ofatr ‘up' feeling and message. which we tried to get on ('p '1}; Our [lips but we were probably swamped with too many negatives. I'm not going to say this is better because everyone always says “this is the best one we've ever done!"
‘I think people in groups just live to make one brilliant LP and that'll do. It's just whether you think you’ve done it at any timc.‘
'l'r’tc ('lturlttluns play The li’urmrv/um/ on Sun 3!).
carries a cheerful, playful happiness,
an ear for a good tune and a zest for
the music that is itself all too rare. Not that she in any way lacks technique, but it always remains at the service of the music and is not flashed out as an end in itself.
In just a few years, she’s moved from her Calway family band to recording sessions with Christy Moore, intercontinental tours with The Waterboys and an eponymous first album — with supporting musicians including Donal Lunny and members of
Hothouse Flowers and “2 - that outsold any other album of traditional
music go to double platinum. She’s played Montreaux Jazz Festival
- with Van Morrison, serenaded
President Clinton at a White House St Patrick’s Day, sold thousands more albums as part of the ‘Woman’s Heart’
. compilation and even cut an album of ~ reggaefied reels in deepest Brixton. So
if you have yet to hear what is the biggest breakthrough into the world of
; popular music by any traditional Celtic musician, get along to Mayfest, where she’ll be in her element playing her
heart out with childhood pal and great
mainstay, the ubiquitous Irish two-row; fiddler Mary Custy, ex-Waterboy Trevor
accordion, has neither the depth of t
Hutchinson on bass and Donogh
someone like Tony MacMahon (who Hennessy on guitar. (Horman
will soon be making a rare Scottish
visit to the Cirvan Folk Festival) or the] Sharon Shannon plays The Ferry on
virtuosity of Mairtin 0’ Connor but it
t Tue 2.
1.7. ' in ‘ v.4 i ‘ ~ — _ 5‘33.
Born Guilty: a legacy of hatred While this year's Mayfest straddles celebrations of the 50th anniversary of \'IE Day. 7:84 Scotland's Born (iut'lly will provide a timely reminder that the suffering wrought by Nazism didn't etrd along with the hostilities.
Based on three collections of interviews by Austrian-Jewish writer Peter Sichrovsky — with children of Nazis. children of Holocaust survivors and present—day right-wing ('iermans —« the production is an ambitious attempt to locate the echoes of the Third Reich irr corrtenrporary Germany.
Instead of a conventional narrative structure delivering a grandiose parable of nationalism‘s terrible fallout. the script has been constructed frorrr the interviewees‘ own words. in an effort to retain the sharply focused character analysis of the books.
‘I think the piece is universal.‘ says 7284‘s director lain Reekie. ‘but to be universal we have to concentrate on the German esperience.‘
limploying a collaborative method common in European theatre btrt rare in this country. 7:84 is working with Berlin—based drarrraturg Rainer l.au. whose background had obvious advantages in the work‘s development. Durizrg an almost unprecedented eight- week rehearsal period. the company has reduced the books‘ crowd of voices to a nrere nine. intercutting the texts to give the impression of dialogue.
‘()f course. it's not dialogue.‘ Reckie points out. "They're all talking about separate things. about their own lives. ercn you ptrt them together. you get a series of people looking for answers. brrt whenever somebody replies. they reply with another problem.‘
This semblance of disctrssion without genuine interaction has clear metaphorical resonance._but the technique brings to mind Beckett's comment on Williarrr Burroughs's cut- up texts: "l'lrat‘s not writing. it‘s plumbing."
Reekie defends his approach. ‘The narrative thought we've put into it is nrore sophisticated than that. It's not
just arbitrarily assembled. and I think we have created a perspective you don‘t always get from the trilogy. ‘Besides.‘ he adds w rily. ‘plumbing can also be very complicated!‘ (David Harris) Ii’um (int/Iv. 7:84 'I'lictttrc ('(miptmy. (Titre/is" 'I'lrczttrc. 'l'lrurx 27 Apr—Sui I3
The List 2l Apr-4 May i995 17