Tim Burgess of The Charlatans on His Twitter Listening Parties | Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
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Tim Burgess of The Charlatans on His Twitter Listening Parties

Tweet to the Beat

Jan 15, 2021 Issue #67 - Phoebe Bridgers and Moses Sumney Photography by Cat Stevens Bookmark and Share

COVID-19 may have put paid to most of 2020’s live music events, but one of the surprise hits of the lockdown has been Tim Burgess, frontman of The Charlatans, and his Twitter listening parties. It’s a simple premise—meet at a predetermined time on Twitter, play the designated album from start to finish, and tweet in real-time with Burgess and his guests, usually the artists behind the album.

When you talk to Burgess his enthusiasm for music is infectious. As well as hosting #TimsTwitterListeningParty, he’s also found time to release his fifth solo album, I Love the New Sky. It’s an album that has been universally praised and Burgess sounds genuinely blown away by the reviews. “I’ve just seen all these four- and five-star reviews everywhere, I feel forever indebted. It came from a genuine place and whereas in the past I’d fit my solo work around Charlatans albums, this time I had all the time in the world.”

His Twitter listening parties began when Burgess thought it might be fun to play The Charlatans’ debut album Some Friendly from start to finish with him providing anecdotes via the social media platform. “That was probably 10 years ago,” Burgess explains, “since then we’ve played all the Charlatans albums and my solo work. When the lockdown began I tweeted that I was thinking of hosting another Some Friendly listening party, to see if anybody fancied it. Alex Kapranos from Franz Ferdinand replied, ‘Great idea, I bought that album when I was 17.’ That got me thinking, he should do one and he loved the idea. Then I asked Dave Rowntree of Blur and all of a sudden it was a thing. Bonehead [Paul Arthurs] from Oasis did the next one, then Wendy Smith from Prefab Sprout, and it snowballed from there.”

The listening parties have been a genuinely joyous immersive experience and filled with interesting tidbits. Stephen Morris and Gillian Gilbert from New Order revealed that the title of their classic 1983-released album Power, Corruption & Lies came from the back cover blurb of George Orwell’s 1984 novel that then bassist Peter Hook was reading at the time. Miki Berenyi from Lush announced that she had just spilt wine all over her keyboard whilst typing about the band’s 1996-released album Lovelife.

“I sent a basic document suggesting the best way to do it in my experience, but everybody came on and did it their own way which was great because they got to show their personality. It’s just magic,” Burgess explains.

Other guests have included Simon Le Bon from Duran Duran; Liam Gallagher; Mark Ronson; and members of Tears For Fears, Belle and Sebastian, Suede, Pulp, Cocteau Twins, MGMT, The Cult, Wolf Alice, and many more, but does Burgess have any favorites or indeed dream artists?

“Well for dream artists I’d have to say RZA from Wu-Tang Clan, Siouxsie Sioux, Peter Gabriel, and Kate Bush maybe?” he replies. “But all the guests have been amazing and embraced it so I can’t pick favorites! Admittedly I was quite emotional when we did Dexy’s Midnight Runners as I’ve been a fan for years. To get the line-up who played on Searching for the Young Soul Rebels and then the line-up for their Too-Rye-Ay album another time, that was special. It led to new conversations and friendships rekindled. I know at the moment we can’t physically stand next to each other but we can share an experience. We can’t see each other but we can sense and feel each other’s presence and really that’s what it’s all about, bringing people together through music.”

[Note: This article originally appeared in Issue 67 of Under the Radar’s print magazine, which is out now. This is its debut online.]



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