Manchester’s Castlefield Bowl has again been transformed into a pop-up music venue for this year’s instalment of the Summer in the City series.
After the success of shows by Pixies and James last time around, Far Out headed to find out whether Saturday’s triple bill featuring The Charlatans, Super Furry Animals and Blossoms would measure up.
Stockport local boys Blossoms open proceedings as the venue gradually fills up. Their brand out bouncy psych-tinged indie has caused many to sit up and take notice through the course of the year. They’re relative infants compared to the pair of indie stalwarts that accompany them on the night, but to their credit, they hold their own.
At times this support set comes across as being a little formulaic, but the five-piece prove they can adapt well to the large, open-air stage.
After setting the world alight with a barnstorming reunion tour two months ago and consolidating their reputation as one of the best live outfits around on Glastonbury’s Park Stage last week, it is slightly strange to see Super Furrys playing the undercard.
But this by no means dilutes the euphoria. If there can be any criticism it’s only the condensing of the set. But then again, it probably comes across as pretty to greedy to try to expect the near-two hours we were treated to at the Albert Hall in May.
Inevitably it’s hit after hit, with the likes of ‘(Drawing) Rings Around the World’ and ‘Juxtapozed With U’ (featuring Gruff Rhys’ vocoder helmet) prompting full-on sing-alongs before we even get a glimpse of Tim Burgess and co.
The glam-rock stomp of ‘Golden Retriever’ has the mob that tussle right down the front bouncing in unison and the set ends – as has become the SFA trademark – with a revved-up version of ‘The Man Don’t Give a Fuck’ – complete with a reprise that follows an interval and costume change. The party has been not only started, but catapulted into full swing in the most explosive way possible.
After a pretty impressive turnaround and a DJ set from New Order couple Stephen and Gillian featuring more ‘Madchester’ classics than you can shake a Northside bucket hat at, the theme tune from Coronation Street (yes, really) ushers the arrival of The Charlatans.
Tim Burgess bounds around the stage conducting the crowd through the show’s iconic opening titles. The atmosphere is buzzing but this overload of nostalgia does for a split second risk pushing the whole thing too far into pastiche.
But luckily, the fact that The Charlatans seem to have rediscovered their form so richly on new album Modern Nature does give the show some extra relevance in the current day.
‘So Oh’ and the woozy psychedelia of ‘Talking in Tones’ have quickly become quirky stand-outs in the set, offering refreshing alternatives to the trademark baggy beats of ‘The Only One I Know’ and ‘North Country Boy’.
That’s not to say the classics from Some Friendly and Tellin’ Stories don’t take precedence with a crowd that is admirably vibrant in its years. There is a visible wave of second generation Charlatans fans who have picked up on their parents’ good tastes to the extent that they spend their drunken Saturday nights together bridging the gap.
After a joyous rendition of another highlight from Modern Nature, ‘Come Home Baby’, they leave the stage, but there doesn’t seem to be a single person in the crowd who is naive enough to think that they won’t be returning.
The set then finishes in spectacular fashion with a sprawling, extended version of ‘Sproston Green’, culminating in a wig-out that proves despite their ever-accelerating years, this band have plenty left in them.