The Charlatans Brought Madchester to the Wiltern: The British indie scene of the late ’80s and early ’90s was spread much further over the UK than it is often given credit for on this side of the Atlantic. An obsession with Factory Records, Joy Division/New Order, the Haçienda and the 24 Hour Party People movie has led many to believe that it started and ended in Manchester, or “Madchester,” but that city was just one hub.

Ride, for example, are from the college town of Oxford. Other bands from Oxford include Radiohead and Supergrass — not a bad local pedigree then. Ride formed in 1988, two years after Radiohead and five years before Supergrass.  All three sound very different though, with Ride coming from the shoegaze end of the indie rock spectrum.

Their first two albums, Nowhere and Going Blank Again, are widely hailed as classics of shoegaze, alongside My Bloody Valentine’s Loveless and anything by Dinosaur Jr. But even their post-reunion albums — 2017’s Weather Diaries and 2019’s This is Not a Safe Place — are great.

At the Wiltern on Saturday night, Ride focussed heavily on Nowhere, with a couple from Going Blank Again and one from Weather Diaries. The whole thing was lush and thick, very different to the headliner set still to come. The dreamy quality to songs such as “Kaleidoscope” and “Vapour Trail” is beautifully hypnotic, densely melodic and indisputably heavy. The whole set gels together seamlessly, and by the end Rode has the sold out crowd swaying uncontrollably.

The Charlatans, on the other hand, were very much associated with the Madchester scene, even though the band actually formed in the West Midlands area. It’s only when northern boy Tim Burgess joined the group, and they started regularly opening for the Stone Roses, that they become fully enveloped by Madchester.
Not that it really matters — no matter where they were based, their acid house-influenced jangle pop (Burgess used to say that they wanted to sound like the Spencer Davis Group on acid) fit in beautifully with fans of the Happy Mondays and Inspiral Carpets.
The Madchester/Haçienda scene was fascinating — the international obsession is totally understandable. The fact that it was somehow closely entwined with the UK rave scene, with artists such as 808 State blurring lines, makes for an interesting study. Tom Morello and Rage Against the Machine are often correctly lauded for creating sounds with live instruments that were previously created with DJ equipment. But Madchester drummers were creating beats live that compared favorably with those created by electronic producers. Close your eyes, sit back, and listen to the Stone Roses or the Mondays again. The rave connection absolutely makes sense.
Watching Burgess at the Wiltern, arms in the air, as he worked his way through genre-classics such as “Ignition” and “Weirdo,” it makes further sense. With his mop of hair, he looks like a bleach blonde Emo Phillips but his energy remains infectious.
The band focused on songs from the Between 10th and 11th album, but there was obviously space for their two best songs –“The Only One I Know” and “North Country Boy.”
Ride and the Charlatans are two very different bands, joined together through a special era for UK indie rather than sonics. But the show also worked because both bands were blurring genre lines from the very beginning. Some things never change.
The Charlatans Brought Madchester to the Wiltern

(Martin Worster)































































































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