Tim Burgess, Liquid Rooms, Edinburgh

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The Independent Culture

Having moved to Los Angeles and temporarily left behind his old bandmates in The Charlatans, Tim Burgess has fallen for the sun-and-sea lifestyle in a big way. So Edinburgh, although showing its sunniest side to Festival visitors, might not seem the obvious place for him to make his live solo debut.

Duty calls, though, and with an interesting and at times catchy album out next month, he's on the promotional treadmill. I Believe is a tearful tribute to his new domicile, featuring local luminaries such as the keyboardist Roger Manning, best known for his work with Beck.

Burgess's live band, however, consists of a set of promising newcomers unearthed in Southern California, including the crack young drummer Adam Marcello and a bassist, Eva Gardiner, last spotted playing with The Mars Volta.

Burgess has always been oddly out of step with the big time. Though he made his name during the era of what was known as baggy, a few years later another equally cheeky, enthusiastic lad, also from Manchester, would become Britain's most loved - and reviled - pop star. Burgess's current direction is similarly out of time, positively jaunty at a time when California is anything but.

He certainly looks the part of the transatlantic rock star, though, with his Aviator shades and immaculate coiffure. And the opener, new single"I Believe in the Spirit", is a loose-limbed rocker, far better than the keyboard-led recorded version.

"Held in Straps", the upbeat, McCartney-esque tune that follows, is oddly reminiscent of The Coral. The catchy "Only a Boy", with the singer's falsetto placing it somewhere between The Style Council and Curtis Mayfield, may be a soul pastiche but it's damned effective. The anthemic "We All Need Love" is enhanced by a great trumpet part. By now it's clear he's playing the new album in order.

Burgess's obvious joy in the music is what makes this gig so much fun. Dropping in a Bob Marley cover, cleverly quoting The Clash in "Oh My Corazon", and rewriting Leonard Cohen's "So Long Marianne" as "Be My Baby", he's having fun, and the mood spreads to the sold-out audience.

"Say Yes" is as catchy as The Four Tops' "Going Loco Down in Acapulco" (being in effect the same song), so it's little wonder Burgess launches into an awkward dance. In fact, only "All I Ever Do" approaches the sound of his usual employers.

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