Music review: Tim Burgess, Lambchop, Barbican, London
Nick Hasted has been a film journalist since 1986. He writes about film, music, books and comics for The Independent, Sight & Sound, Uncut and Little White Lies. He has published two books: The Dark Story of Eminem (2002), and You Really Got Me: The Story of The Kinks (2011), both from Omnibus Press.
Monday 24 June 2013
Tim Burgess is singing The Charlatans' "The Only One I Know" as a rueful acoustic reverie, finding new, profound power in its simple words.
The band’s first top ten hit, at the height of Madchester 23 years ago, sounds unexpectedly enduring. Few would have thought then that Burgess, too, would prove the most interesting and creative of that Northwestern generation, and its strongest, most soulful singer.
His restlessness can be seen in the box of 7-inch singles in the foyer from his record label, O Genesis, a rollicking autobiography, and best of all tonight’s triumphant collaboration with Nashville’s Lambchop. It’s the culmination of last year’s solo album Oh No, I Love You, which Lambchop’s Kurt Wagner wrote the lyrics for during Burgess’s stay in Nashville. An unlikely bridge is built here between Madchester, Britpop and alt.country, and two sensitive souls.
Lambchop open with a 90 minute set. A sextet tonight, they’re suited and keep their heads down, intent on playing music which dares to be soft, slow and unthrilling. It’s built around Wagner’s words, which focus on odd details to build pictures through allusive, lyrical sleight of hand - when you can hear them, as his voice snatches and swallows syllables. On “Nothing But A Blur From A Bullet Train”, clarinet, piano and brushed cymbal emphasise the strokes of his guitar. When Burgess guests on one of their collaborations, “Tobacco Fields”, he perches diffidently on the monitor. The two men, friends in Nashville, seem embarrassed to see each other on stage.
Burgess’s own set sees musicians come and go as required, with organic openness. Bolstered by strings, there’s a rich, resilient sadness in “A Man Needs To Be Told” matched by Burgess’s voice, slipping easily between high and low registers. The slow, cyclical “A Case for Vinyl” would feel suspended and tense if it wasn’t so lovely. About a break-up and its acceptance, and its residue in piles of LPs, it’s the greatest song he or Wagner have recorded in years, realised to the full on the night it was made for.
By the closing “A Gain”, Lambchop and Burgess’s excellent musicians have come together in a crashing climax as a swelling, unorthodox country-gospel-soul big band. Wagner, diffident to a fault earlier, is howling and pointing, transported. The stars these men aimed for are reached.
Listen to his collaboration with Naughty Boymusic
Film review Michael Glatze biopic isn't about a self-hating gay man gone straight
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Katie Hopkins attacked me on Twitter — so I reported her to the police for inciting racial hatred
- 2 I might be an MP, but that doesn't stop me fighting sexism with my breasts
- 3 Martha Stewart accuses Snoop Dogg of 'smoking for four hours' during Justin Bieber Roast
- 4 Google April Fools': company unveils backwards search engine and huggable digital assistant
- 5 April Fools' Day 2015: The best hoax news stories from around the internet
Tidal launch: The most pretentious lines from Alicia Keys' valedictory speech
Tidal: Jay Z's Spotify rival criticised for making wealthy artists even richer
Top Gear live to go ahead: Jeremy Clarkson to join Richard Hammond and James May... just don't call it Top Gear
Fifty Shades of Grey movie shows first sex scene 'after 40 minutes'
James May hints he will not continue on Top Gear without Jeremy Clarkson
Ukip supporters are 55 or older, white and socially conservative, finds British Social Attitudes Report
Street preacher quoting from the Bible fined for calling homosexuality an 'abomination'
Woman filmed launching racist tirade against men on the Tube for speaking in 'own lingo'
Katie Hopkins attacked me on Twitter — so I reported her to the police for inciting racial hatred
The West has it totally wrong on Lee Kuan Yew
David Cameron calls Labour 'hopeless, sneering socialists' while announcing 7-day NHS plans