THERE are two sides to Craig Charles’ public persona. There are those that see him as that bloke from Corrie who got into a bit of trouble in the paper, and there are those that see him as the energetic Radio 6 Music master with the longest-running show on the station thanks to his encyclopedic knowledge of black American music, Northern Soul, and some of the best remixes around.
“He looked sober as a judge, and I didn’t see him light up once.”
On Friday evening at the Piazza of MediaCityUK, as part of the BBC’s Summer In The City series of shows, Charles wanted to set the record straight.
“That bloke you recognise from Robot Wars,” he said. “That’s not me, this is me.”
Support act The Haggis Horns warmed up the crowd. Once an eight-piece breakbeat funk extravaganza, the horns have now streamlined and returned to their roots following the death of saxophonist Jason Rae in 2008, and opened the night with 'Way Of The Haggis' from the album Keep On Movin’.
There’d been rumours of a mob of 4,000 turning up for this one, but there seemed less than half of that. Still, with plenty of room to move about, and the sun still shining, there was a pleasant atmosphere at MediaCityUK – it was a good idea this Summer In The City thing.
Anybody who has seen Craig Charles play his monthly Funk and Soul Show at Band On The Wall will be accustomed to his animated approach to spinning records. The guy absolutely loves it. You’d be hard pressed to find somebody dancing harder, with more sweat pouring from their brow, than Charles, in the building.
Friday was different though. This was a much more reserved Craig Charles. I saw him play outdoors at a festival this summer and he spent his set chain smoking Marlboro Red’s and sinking booze, but this was the BBC 6 Music Craig Charles Funk and Soul Show, not the Craig Charles Funk and Soul Club he tours around. They are very different animals.
Charles invited his daughter and niece onto the stage for a dance. He looked sober as a judge, and I didn’t see him light up once. The music was as good as ever and during a short set Charles managed to rummage through his trunk of funk to find bangers such as Sam Redmore’s acoustic takedown of Bob Marley’s ‘Is This Love’ and Nostalgia 77’s remix of ‘Seven Nation Army.’
Friday was a nice teaser, but if you want the real Craig Charles Funk and Soul experience, keep your eyes peeled for his night at Band On The Wall next month.
You can follow David on Twitter @DavidPMcCourt
Top image by Lucy Mort
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