Charlatans U.K. | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

Charlatans U.K. 

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The heavily stoked psychedelia of the Manchester scene--the scads of hallucinatory dance bands that took over England a year or two back seems not to have taken hold in the U.S. Unless the Stone Roses pull a rabbit out of a hat on their long-awaited second album, we'll have to make do with the Charlatans (the "U.K." appended to their name stateside is a legal nicety), whose new Between 10th and 11th confirms certain talents. Don't get me wrong, this is not a band with anything to say: its lyrics are blather, and band members' statements to the press go far beyond the call of dopiness, even for callow young bands from the Midlands. But turn up the volume and the band's swirling rhythms and distinctive instrumentation do all the talking. The Charlatans' propulsive, bone-rattling bottom is devastatingly effective, particularly live; on the higher end, Rob Collins's ubiquitous, unnerving Hammond takes over as the lead instrument, with both guitars and Tim Burgess's vocals left to fend for themselves. Their musical rag picking ranges from the crass (the "Hush" lift on "The Only One I Know") to the clever (a tip o' the hat to Magical Mystery Tour's "Flying" on "Can't Even Be Bothered"), but it's always done with flair; onstage they play with a cutthroat, bracing authority, any lyrical pretensions dissolving in a barrage of swirls, smoke, and sweat. Steamy. The Wolfgang Press opens. Tonight, 7 PM, Riviera Theatre, 4746 N. Racine; 275-6800.

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Steve Double.

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