For more than two decades now, The Charlatans have been an inspirational force in British rock. As they celebrate their twentieth anniversary with some very special gigs, they remain as exciting and relevant now, as when they first broke through to the immortal strains of 'The Only One I Know' – if not, more so, as a new generation of young bands and fans today hail them as lifelong heroes.
Rooted in the Midlands and Northwest of England, the band have always exuded positive energy, whether in the first mania of their success in the early '90s, or while suffering their many tribulations midway through that decade, or in their sophisticated, ever-questing vitality today.
The unshakable line-up of Martin Blunt (bass), Jon Brookes (drums), Tim Burgess (vocals), Mark Collins (guitar) and Tony Rogers (keyboards) have, along the way, made so much beautiful, brilliant music – countless classic singles, bursting with melody and class; and an enviable catalogue of albums, each restlessly different from the last, none anything short of compelling, uplifting, or totally rockin'. Unlike all but a very select few bands of their vintage, Charlatans albums are urgent, and full of life, both commercially and creatively.
Their eleventh studio collection, 'Who We Touch', must surely rank as their boldest to date, radically broadening, in places, their aesthetic remit. It is, says Burgess, "a soulful voyage", a journey through moods upful and profound, dark and delirious, ultimately concluding in blissful optimism. Its sound is inspired by many heroes, yet always sounds like no-one other than The Charlatans themselves.
"You don’t want to do something you’ve done before," Tim reasons. "You have to start with a blank page. You need to be enlightened. The dead give birth to dead things."