In the absence of live music, Tim Burgess’ nightly Twitter parties have helped fill the void. New Sounds salutes the amazing social media phenomenon that is #TimsTwitterListeningParty

It’s 10pm. The drinks are flowing; you’re surrounded by like-minded music lovers; and, best of all, you’re listening to your favourite band blasting out their greatest hits – life doesn’t get any better does it? There is, however, one little caveat to this lovely scenario – everything is happening online, on your Twitter feed, rather than inside a gig venue. Welcome, in these self-isolation times, to the joyous realm of #TimsTwitterListeningParty.

      The ongoing coronavirus pandemic has, of course, massively impacted the way we engage with our favourite bands and artists. With live music venues closed down for the foreseeable future, the world’s musicians – in typically resourceful fashion – have taken their talents online, presenting all manner of live gigs, festivals and specially recorded self-isolation songs. 

      There is, however, one particular event that has stood out amongst our quarantine music options: Tim Burgess’ Twitter listening parties. Since it first launched in March, shortly after UK lockdown began, Tim Burgess’ social media gathering has become a real sanctuary for music fans. The premise is simple: The Charlatans’ frontman picks a classic album, gets the artist behind the album to live tweet about it, and we – the music fan – has a thoroughly marvellous time. 

     Taking place every evening from 6pm, the online parties provide fans a welcome opportunity to reappraise their fave records while forgetting the depressing outside world for a couple of hours.

      Indeed, what’s most impressive is the sheer variety of artists who’ve been willing to get involved. Over the past few weeks, we’ve had guitarist Paul ‘Bonehead’ Arthurs talking with real emotion about the first three Oasis albums (and the imperious B-side compilation The Masterplan); Blur’s Dave Rowntree has reflected on his band’s iconic Parklife LP, and Pete Doherty and Carl Barat have shared insights into The Libertines’ gloriously ramshackle debut Up The Bracket. Newer artists have also been involved, from Wolf Alice and The Orielles to Shame and Blossoms.   

      Best of all, there’s plenty more life in this party yet. Later this month, on May 22nd, legendary bass player Peter Hook will be tweeting his way through Joy Division’s seminal LP Unknown Pleasures. And this weekend (Sunday May 10th) will see a special listening party honouring the back catalogue of Scottish indie-folk outfit Frightened Rabbit. The date will, of course, be particularly poignant – as May 10th marks two years since the passing of Frightened Rabbit frontman Scott Hutchison. Don’t forget the tissues for that one.            

      For those of us desperately starved of live music, Tim’s Listening Parties have been a real godsend – a comforting reminder of the world we left behind a few weeks ago. On a deeper, more sentimental level, however, they’re also a sharp reminder of how the album functions as a real art form. In these times of streaming, when so many artists are more concerned with single releases than creating an extended body of work, #TimsTwitterListeningParty has firmly emphasised the importance of the long-player – a collection of songs with a strong theme, purpose and emotional resonance. Something we ought to experience from start to finish; a layered, nuanced collection of songs with numerous peaks and troughs.

     In many years time, when we look back upon this depressing period of lockdown, we’ll remember those endless Netflix binges, those awkward Zoom meetings, and those half-arsed attempts at exercising with Joe Wicks. Most of all, though, we’ll think of those wonderful evenings listening to our favourite albums, glass of wine in hand, while sharing in that joyful communality so unique to music fans. Tim’s Twitter Listening Parties – we heartily salute you.