James/The Charlatans

SSE Hydro, Glasgow

Four stars

Graeme Thomson

Wednesday night, and a tale of two Tims. Charlatans singer Tim Burgess is a peroxide Brian Jones with the impish bounce of a natural mischief-maker. James frontman Tim Booth, meanwhile, is more charismatic yoga instructor turned cult leader, with a pinch of Bond villain thrown in for fun. The pairing made for a canny double header, with both bands enjoying a mid-career purple patch, too cussed and creative to live off former glories.

The Charlatans zipped through a spritely festival set, warm and woozy. Alongside picks from recent album, Different Days, The Only One I Know, Weirdo and Sproston Green reanimated the Day-Glo baggy epoch with easy charm, while North Country Boy and Impossible hit an organic country-rock groove.

James were a more intense proposition. Theirs is ritual music: loose, ascending, percussive, building in waves. Playing the talismanic Sit Down early was bold, but the blend of old favourites and songs from strong new album Living In Extraordinary Times insured against any drop in fervour. Booth provided the vital point of connection, grasping a fan’s hand for the duration of Waltzing Along, launching himself into the crowd on How Was It For You?, dancing like a machine-gunned dervish on the trippy What’s It All About.

It’s rare these days to witness an arena show which isn’t ruthlessly drilled, but James were attuned to the mood in the room and proved adept at responding in the moment, as on a beautiful, semi-improvised Out To Get You. As the set built so too did the sense of euphoria. Sound and Come Home were huge and joyful, while the crowd refused to let Many Faces end, singing the refrain for several minutes. “Don’t bother coming to any other shows,” said Booth, grinning. “This will be the best one.”