Saturday 12th April 2014
The Charlotte Reopening Weekend.
by Keith Jobey
Fact 1: I never went to see a gig at the Charlotte. I started going to Leicester gigs just as it was closing. There were one or two I could have made but didn’t. And I’m sad about that because everyone in Leicester has been to a gig there.
Fact 2: I have never seen Meri Everitt (who saw Pele at the Charlotte) play a solo gig. I’ve seen her band Flying Kangaroo Alliance thirteen times but never her playing solo. I’m also sad about that.
Tonight then is a perfect opportunity to put things right. Meri, followed by the Paradimes, is playing at the Charlotte as part of the reopening weekend.
Walking into The Charlotte feels strange. I’ve passed it so many times being in the prominent location that it is. I’ve heard so much about it, seen so many photographs and heard so many tales about it. I assumed that when the flat conversion took place that the whole building was used and that was that, the Charlotte was gone for ever. For some reason though, the bar was left and so was the stage, albeit without a roof.
First impressions are that they can’t have done much to it. Spartan pretty much sums it up. There’s a nice new looking bar on the right though, a few tables and chairs and some fitted seating. Looking around I notice that a fair number of fittings are plain chipboard and the walls are also plain. It’s not Factory Records Hacienda but I think the objective here is to firstly stay in business not throw money away. I like that it feels like what it was, even to me, someone who never went to a gig at the Charlotte.
Out the back, past the new toilets, is the old stage, now open air. The plan is to have gigs out here in the summer when the surrounding student flats are empty. When the students are in residence it’s acoustic gigs, and tonight’s is indoors at the back of the single room.
The bar is well stocked with some good local beers at very competitive prices. In fact I score a free pint (cheers) due to fortunate timing. The room is rather empty. There are some rugger fans, some curious passers by and me. Surely more people than this would come to see the opening weekend gig at the Charlotte. I’m early though and by the time the music gets underway the place has filled up. Including most of The Screening. Wish I’d seen them play here.
At 9:30 Meri Everitt picks up her guitar and begins singing in the Charlotte. She sticks mainly to a set more typical of her band Flying Kangaroo Alliance. Quiet, delicate numbers wouldn’t be heard over the chatter of the crowd here now. Although we do get Every Car from her excellent solo album Wanted!.
Reggae/Ska band The Paradimes follow with an acoustic set featuring a reduced line-up. Although with a trumpet and electric bass they’re loud enough to cut through the chatter in the echo chamber of a room. More good music fills the Charlotte again.
So there it is, I’ve been to a gig at the Charlotte. The legendary gig venue the Charlotte may have gone but we have in its place is a new version that can perhaps evoke memories of the old one and may in time have some of its own legendary gigs, who knows? I’ve now got a happy memory of a gig at the Charlotte. Go get yourself another one.