A day when one of your all time favourite bands announces a day of take over events in your favourite part of Manchester and they’re doing a signing of the new album too. Only one thing to do. Aim to be there all day! The day the Charlatans took over Oldham Street, Manchester. That day. A Different Day. One of those … Different Days.
First stop the Manchester Mini Market to pick up a laminate for the day to see what’s happening, having a laminate instantly gives it a festival feel. I was one of the first there at 7am ready for a breakfast at Koffee Pot to set me up for the day. Why was I there at 7am? Because it was amazing weather, I’d got the train at 6.22am and it was already easily shorts, T-shirt and sandles weather. It also meant I could turn up and see what happens next. The Koffee Pot breakfast was treated with the first public playing of Different Days. The 13th studio album by the north-west’s most hard working of bands, surviving losses of band members through ill health and accident, estranged manager relationships, fashions evolving around them and a music industry struggling to survive a shift in how bands are ‘charted’ and how music is bought. I couldn’t wait for the official playback breakfast though, I’d already had my private playback on Spotify on the way into Manchester on the train.
Now with my laminate I amble up Oldham street towards Koffee Pot where I could see a crowd of (Dead Dead) good people waiting for Koffee Pot to open in half an hour. Whilst we’re waiting Tom (from Kiwi Krusha) collars me and asks if he can film me for the Charlatans video of the day. Two things here, 1, of course I’m up for it and 2, the Charlatans are just as excited about this day as the music fans. After all the love of the music is what has brought everyone together and tragically it was that same love that had brought 22 young people to Manchester just 4 days earlier to the Ariana Grande concert. I’d been in Manchester for two days in between the atrocity from that Monday night and I’d seen that Manchester had amazingly pulled together to carry on. The Charlatans also decided to carry on with the take over day and people had travelled from as far as France and Dublin to be involved (you can see Dominic on the video too, top lad).
“What are you queuing here for lads?” Emilie, a local girl who’d headed to town early to get her ‘Bee Tattoo‘ to tribute the lives lost, and celebrate (if that’s the right word) Manchester’s communities and resilience. “That’s cool, sounds like a great day” she remarked when I showed here around the happenings with the help of my laminate. “And… there’s a Charlatans track called Emilie too!”
Koffee Pot opens the shutters to the crowd awaiting breakfast and the first listen of the new album. Now those who know me will know that I’m quite happy being by myself at a gig/music event and over breakfast cause whilst it’s great being at a such an event with your mates or significant others, it’s also perfectly good appreciating the moment, the music and making new mates (there’s always someone else who wouldn’t miss a day like today regardless of whether they had a gig mate to share the day with or not). I was meeting my mate Joby at just after lunch and until then it was just socialise with the crowd, and keep him updated on WhatsApp. Cue first Different Day pal, Lee from Leeds. Sound bloke and full of many music related stories to share from both side. We talk about first gigs, favourite albums, record store day, the day ahead and the new album whilst we wait for the waitress to catch up on the house full of orders that they wouldn’t normally have so early in the morning. Of course the album was being played on the decks (Burgess being a record addict himself) and limited edition postcards were given out to start filling the bag of swag for the day. And there was lots of that to be had;
- Different Day Mug (I grabbed one of those)
- Postcards (I doubled up on these for Joby on his way into town later)
- Prints – Tune Map (adapted tube map of Charlatans releases)
- Beer mats
- A Different Day beer from Krafty Brewery
- Coffee cups
- Walkmans Pre-loaded with a cassette copy of different days
- Charlatans tour jacket in Oxfam owned by Mark from the Charlatans, a jacket Tim and Martin wore in iconic press shots in the 90’s
- And even breakfast cereal and tea
If you read my blog about time travel the boardwalk charlatans gig featured in there and Lee from Leeds was at that gig. He’d bought the album on every format and was in the queue along side me as one of the first 150 to buy the album on release day from Piccadilly records. There was a guest list for a secret gig which is upcoming and as I type this the Charlatans instagram has posted a picture of Salford Lads Club, speculation has started. We’re getting notified closer to the time.
It was nearly 10am and I’d been up since before 6 I needed another coffee so I popped to Tim Peaks Coffee shop, a pop up at the African coffee shop on Oldham street. As soon as I walked in I bumped into charlatans pal number 2, Dominik from Ireland “I swam over I was so excited” now this guy is full of the day, sleaford mods T Shirt on and big lamb chop burns he’s all about the music. Next minute Video Guy Tom turns up “I’m following you about !” Jokes Tom. It seems that the Charlatans have acheived what they set out to and that’s to takeover Oldham St. everywhere you look there’s someone with a laminate round their necks. Shops are giving away postcards and memorabilia (I even got a postcard with the Tim special of chips gravy and peas from Les fish bar). I tried to blag the Different Days tea box from the coffee shop “come back at 4pm and you can have it” bearing in mind my bag is already filling up and non of the record shops are open yet. The day is being rounded off with a gig at the Lowry which starts at 4pm so I’ll let that tea box go.
Back to the Piccadilly Records queue and eventually the doors open at 10am “which Version are you going to get then?” Asks Lee. I was undecided on the LP or the 7″ boxset and cause I’m a sucker for a boxset I went for that – the album spread on 5×7″ clear vinyl and each of the 7″ has coloured versions of the album cover. I thought it be a good one to get signed and framed together at some point (when I figure out which wall in the house they can rest on).
There were some ‘special guests’ playing at 11am at the a Different Days pop up bar and the queue was building there already. We collect our records get our names on the guest list for the secret gig and head over to the Different Days pub in a disused shop called United footwear. There were already bands on and these lot had come over from Brooklyn, Pain of being pure. They look the part and sound really good, pretty lofi with pulses of energy maybe similar to Hooten Tennis Club or even Pavement.
The place is packed now with a bar in the middle serving Charlatans Hello Sunrise and Spinning Out Beer from the Taps thanks to Lancashire Brewery, a can bar at the back and a huge paella with some vintage style furniture wrapped in Charlatans prints up for sale too. On the walls are plenty of Charlatans posters and some excellent wall art from @Smashedhits, pictures made up of broken pieces of black vinyl records. They look so great – there’s one of the Charlatans Tellin’ Stories album front cover a clear favourite of mine … I get chatting to the artist Kirk and he tells me it’s Tim’s.
Whilst we were waiting for the band to come on I had look at the 7″ boxset. Nice jukebox set 🙂 the signing session is at Piccadilly after then gig and I’m thinking 4 of the sleeves signed by the band. That worked out nicely with Tim doing a bit of a personalised signing when I handed it to him and said “here’s the orange one.”
Plastic machinery kicks off the set which is Tim and Mark doing what they do best, acoustic versions of the classics – “that Tom ‘mouse’ Smith does this better than us” he’s referring to the youngster who’s getting plenty of attention and he played later at the Lowry too. ‘The only one I know’, ‘Solutions’, ‘Different Days’ fill out the set and then a perfect finale of ‘Just when you’re thinking things over’ – Tim dedicates it to the people and the place, a welcome and sobering reference to the terrible happenings earlier that week “this is for the city of Manchester” the crowd are in fantastic voice and this is one of my all time favourites. I remember this one well from the first time I saw the band live at the Manchester Apollo around 1995. Epic.
After the band finished I bumped into Picturedrome from Macclesfield getting some brilliant shots to share and then I get a message from my mate Joby saying he’s on his way, he’ll be gutted he missed that one.
As soon the band finish the place starts to empty, I stuck around and I’m glad I did cause Slow Readers Club came on next. Sounding fantastic and completely unexpected.
The signing queue was big and it was baking hot so I decided to Check Black milk – the salted caramel shake there was proper refreshing – good mix of 90’s hiphop, snoop and friends, a massive box totes amazeballs and a space to chill and recharge my phone before the afternoon of beer and music begins. On my way back down Oldham Street to Piccadilly Records I popped into the photo exhibition by Charlotte Wellings. She kindly handed me a postcard earlier on. She’s caught some fantastic shots of musicians and has another exhibition coming up soon. One of her shots was from the Charlatans Albert Hall gig from the Modern Nature tour, it’s a great shot of the circular balcony and me and my wife were only marginally off shot.
When I got back to Piccadilly the queue for the signing had gone down considerably so I jumped in – 20 mins later I was in front of the band to get their squiggles on the record the day was all about. I had the orange 7″ to Tim and say “here’s the orange one” (a reference to the early Charlatans song Polar Bear “looking for the orange one”) – he smiled and sign it “the orange one” – Whilst I was stood there Plastic Machinery came on and Mark Collins starts nod his head like it’s the first time he’s heard it… maybe it was haha. A bunch of really down to earth guys in a band that has successful put another top record.
Enter Joby, gutted that he’s missed out on the first half of the day and as it’s about 26 degrees out side he’s gasping for a drink. We head over to United Footwear again and have a pint from Lancaster Brewery again. And a coupe of Different Days beers to take away curtesy of Krafty Brew.
Charli white was playing at stage and radio so we popped in there before heading to the Lowry. It was free pass with the Tim Peaks FM sticker on the Waxi which we completely messed up and mistimed so we got the taxi instead.
A bit of an Album review:
The setting sun, fantastic baseline and vocal melody – taking me back to some friendly – is this the one with Anton on? Cause the ending is very BJM and would be really happy with some spoken word over it.
There will be chances is my favourite after a few listens brilliant anthem of a chorus and melody! Mark Collins with vocals on this one too that makes a different dynamic for the band.
Hey sunrise – sounding in line with Burgess solo stuff at first and then building into a very train friendly groove. Train Friendly? Yes cause I pressed play on this on the way to Manchester for the Different Days takeover, as everyone who was in Manchester that day knows it was a scorcher and the 6.22 from Macclesfield left my home town with a cracker of a sunrise.