Charlotte Hatherley – Manchester Academy 3 – 22.9.04

Who’d have thought it? The cute guitarists from Ash releasing a debut album choc a block with pop freshness from beginning to end, rich in melody with every track a potential single. Now that her touring commitments with Ash are over what better time to hit the road to play a handful of dates in the UK.

Surprisingly the intimate Academy 3 hasn’t sold out, yet despite next to no advertising there’s a sizable crowd none the less. Charlotte’s intro music is “Kids In America”, by the singer who she recently immortalised in song. Looking healthy and sprightly, Miss Hatherley is surrounded by a group of anonymous looking session musicians. As soon as she walks on stage, one of her younger fans is prone to shouting out “I love you Charlotte”. Bless him, he besotted with her and it’s easy to see why. That said Charlotte doesn’t look entirely comfortable being in the spotlight with all the attention solely on her. The between song banter and connecting with the audience is limited, with the occasional thanks and the odd nervous smile compensating for her lack of charisma. Thankfully her solo material is strong enough to make up for any initial coyness.

While her voice isn’t that impressive live, it’s full of character and vitality and lets not forget she’s a demon on the guitar. The backing band made up of members of Idlewild and Graham Coxon’s band do a sterling job too with the feisty female keyboard player providing sumptuous backing vocals. Charlotte’s set is mostly comprised of tracks off her album with “Summer” an absolute belter. As is “Down”, which could easily pass as an Ash album track. The title track off her album is heavy portion of rock, which follows the song about a one night stand with a Spanish boy. For the encore Charlotte and her band play an old Ash B-Side called “Taken Out”.

As much as I enjoyed Charlotte’s solo set I hope she doesn’t give up her day job as guitarist with Ash, as she’s vital to the bands dynamic and overall sound.

Nicholas Paul Godkin

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