As pointed out by compere Vic Galloway, The Charlatans are 26 years into a career which has left them remarkably, unflaggingly joyful in performance. Indeed, for anyone mourning the many sadnesses, musical and otherwise, of 2016, they’re a band who represent the virtues of standing up, brushing yourself off and getting on with things - in those two-and-a-half decades two of their members have died tragically young, yet the needle-sharp joy in Tim Burgess’ voice as he hollers the lyric of 1996’s One to Another over its crunching, quasi-electronic beat remains undiluted.
Edinburgh’s Hogmanay - Waverley Stage ****
Princes Street, Edinburgh
The Cheshire-formed survivors of the Madchester and Britpop scenes are solid, dependable and often unfairly taken for granted, yet to do so is to ignore a sublime and enduring tendency for great pop music. Burgess – who earlier in the day had discussed his second book of memoirs with Galloway in the Assembly Hall on the Mound, making him one of the 1990s’ few Renaissance pop musicians – now wears a dyed-blonde bob haircut which would have stood out a mile in Salford circa 1990, and he has a warmth which makes each of these songs entirely believable.
The quintet swooned through the pastoral Let the Good Times Be Never Ending and Come Home Baby (two of the strong links in the set taken from 2015’s quality-maintaining 12th album Modern Nature); white-boy indie-funk on You’re So Pretty, We’re So Pretty; and finally epic, psych-baggy on Sproston Green, their euphoric, ever-present set closer for the last 25 years. This year in particular, we should be reminded how lucky we are to have such a warm, talented and open-hearted band around.
Before the Charlatans’ Bells-straddling set, two of Scotland’s likeliest young contenders were rewarded with support slots before healthy crowds.
Celebrating their recent headline appearance at the Barrowlands in Glasgow, Ayrshire’s Fatherson are (mostly) hirsute young pretenders to the throne of Frightened Rabbit, in that they make pastoral, emotionally charged indie-rock whose still-developing maturity is currently overtaken by their undoubted ability.
Their future holds big things, much like that of Be Charlotte, a band fronted by Dundee’s Charlotte Brimner, a vision in a purple and white tinsel jacket who alternately raps and sings electro-acoustic songs rich in a sense of personal and social consciousness. Again, she’s a distinctive and rapidly developing talent; for both of these bands, the clock is running on careers capable of longevity.