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A SMALL CROWD, BUT A BIG BRAVO, FOR THE CHARLATANS

Saturday night's concert at the Ogden Street Concert Hall must have been an odd experience for the Charlatans UK. The band, which can fill stadiums in England, played to not much more than 300 people.

The band is thriving despite tragedy. The death of keyboard player Rob Collins in a car accident last year sent shock waves through Britain. But the band struggled on, finishing their current album with Martin Duffy of Primal Scream on keyboards.

The show began with the Dandy Warhols, who have had success recently with their catchy song, "Not If You Were the Last Junkie On Earth." The Warhols, although American, have a certain British sound to their music, due to their love of Britpop.

They were plagued with sound problems, which prompted singer Courtney Taylor to shout, "Thanks for showing up for our sound check. You didn't actually pay for this, did you?" Regardless, they played an upbeat set.

The Charlatans took the stage around 10, and with a brief "Hello, Buffalo" ripped through most of their new album and 1995's self-titled effort that also reached No. 1 in the UK. Wearing a button-down shirt and smoking a cigarette, lead singer Tim Burgess seemed laid back and distant, but his vocal strength and emotion shone through on bluesy-rock numbers like "With No Shoes." He was intense during the set, but his interaction with the crowd was non-existent. Burgess, along with drummer Jon Brookes, guitarist Mark Collins and bassist Martin Blunt, played a short but mesmerizing set that included the current hit, "One To Another," as well as older concert staples like "Just Lookin,' " and "Just When You're Thinkin' Things Over."

For an encore, the band played "Sproston Green" from their first album, 1989's "Some Friendly," which also went to No. 1 in the UK. The song slowly built momentum, and then took off at an extremely high volume. It makes a good closing song, and the band uses it as the encore for most of its concerts. After only one encore song, though, the band left the stage with little fanfare.

You have to wonder how the band felt playing to a small crowd in what must have seemed like the middle of nowhere to them. They seemed to have one foot out the door all evening. Luckily, their raw talent, stage presence and the strength of their long catalog of songs were enough for them to stage a successful show.

Matthew Smith is a senior at Orchard Park High School.

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