Back in 2013 my love of all things relating to The Charlatans was running at it’s highest level since finding them for the first time in 1990. As a present for my 40th Birthday in 2010, Lorna, the missus, had bought me “meet and greet” tickets for the Some Friendly 20th anniversary gig at The Barrowlands, Ballroom Glasgow. Both me and she had spent the afternoon sipping champagne in a hotel room before making our way to the venue. The bubbles had eroded my self-consciousness and after sitting in the Barras downstairs bar, in the company of fellow Charlafans for an hour, awaiting an audience with the band, we were called forward. The couple behind us were, as it turned out, from our home town of Armadale. Graeme and Karen had tentatively listened to my ramblings about how big a fan I was, all that time. They must have been biting their tongues, as I now realise, every Charlatans fan is a massive Charlatans fan. I’m sure I heard a collective sigh of relief from everyone waiting as we stepped towards the rear of the backroom area, where Martin, Mark, Jon, Tony and Tim waited in line.
At the time I didn’t really appreciate who the Charlatans were. By that I mean I knew all their tunes. Each was instantly recogniseable from the first chords fingered on the Hammond Organ by Tony Rogers; the thrumming bass of Martin Blunt filling in the gaps; the tuneful guitar riffs supplied by Mark Collins; the distinctive ‘one beat’ drumming of Jon Brookes; not to mention the signature sound of The Charlatans front man…Mr Tim Burgess, but I hadn’t really gotten to know the people behind those tunes. So it was that I strutted, full of champagne bubbles and middle aged bravado and announced, “How are you lot doing?”, pointing at the musicians in the band. “He is the voice”, now pointing at Tim, “but you’s are the sound of The Charlatans. Without you lot the band is nothing.” It’s not really surprising that this was met with stunned silence and a mixture of grins and fear on the faces of the five hero’s of so many music fans. I then proceded to shake the hands of each one of them, over vigorously I suspect but when I got to Martin he held my stare and spoke to me. My own nervous tension, which had been feeding my overtly forthright pronouncements, was instantly dispersed and we had a conversation about family and children, about turning 40 and about my hopes for the gig that night. This man was just that, a man. A musical hero of mine, but a man also.
We spent a further 10 mins talking to the rest of the band and Lorna had her own, Why did I say that? moment, when she commented to Tim about how much “I like your skin.” A comment that was received with a pleasant smile and a “Thanks for saying.”
A few autographs later, a final round of hand shakes, a photograph with the band some of whom were partaking in Lorna’s request for a Charlie’s Angels pose and we’re off to join the hoi poloi again. As I walk back towards the remaining, waiting fans, I hear my name shouted in a brummie accent, “Davie…….Happy Birthday….take care fella”. We turn and wave our thanks to Martin and the rest of our new friends.
Following that meeting I joined The Charlatans fan forum which opened my eyes to the fanaticism of people who had dedicated their time to following their favourite band up and down the UK.