Tim Burgess – review, Union Chapel, London
“It is good to be back in the chapel. We are all friends here, right?” Tim Burgess states and pleads at the same time. Of course, he doesn’t have to worry, Burgess has lots of friends here, he has brought them all with him.
Burgess’ backing band comprises of Mark Collins, the guitarist from his regular band the Charlatans, members of the night’s support band Hatcham Social and Duffy, the organist from Primal Scream and ex-member of the Charlatans.
Throughout the night Burgess acknowledges this support, and shows a little of his vulnerability, by regularly stepping aside so the audience can see the band in the spotlight.
It is the open spaces of Union Chapel that showcase Burgess’ new album, Oh No I Love You, almost ten years after the release of his first. Anybody expecting any material from the Charlatans back catalogue will leave disappointed but also, appropriately for a chapel, enlightened.
The slow building Tobacco Fields opens proceedings and immediately highlights the expediency of an organ in a chapel as Duffy fills the spaces with his swirly, textural patterns.
Burgess’ set begins to build and the inter-band love-in is heightened further when Sean O’Hagan of the High Llamas’ joins him on stage with a couple of violinists for a stirring rendition of Hours.
When the cover of the Beach Boys’ Don’t Talk (Put Your Head on my Shoulder) goes horribly awry, as Burgess not just misses the high notes but gets nowhere near them at all, then a sympathetic round of applause from the band and the audience shows that yes, we really are friends here. He is just coming back from a bout of concert cancelling laryngitis after all.
This puts a full stop on part one of the show and far from stumbling Burgess just gets better. Teach me How to Live emphasises the maturity of his new tracks and Thinking of You reveals the Nashville influences at work on the new album.
The set closer, the new single White has the loudest cheer of all as its indie pop groove, similar in sound to the Charlatans, sends his oldest and newest fans happily into the freezing night air of Islington.
Tonight Burgess has shown how making friends can influence people. But perhaps instead of a Beach Boys cover, a cover of the Beatles’ With a Little Help From My Friends would have been more appropriate.