No matter how many gigs I’ve attended In the past (and that must be about 70+ by now) The Courteeners will always be one of the very few bands that can bring out my inner fan girl; the over enthusiastic 14 year old that often spent weeks on end building up excitement for a gig and weeks after riding on a high from it. So, on that note, I’d like to apologise in advance for this inevitably turning into an obsessed rant packed full of (deserved) adulation and admiration for the band.
To prove how much of a dedicated fan I am, I turned up at the O2 Academy an hour early, just to guarantee a barrier spot. I’m aware this may not seem too radical to most people but I’m normally a “turn up 10 minutes after doors” kind of person, so for me it was a pretty big deal! In all honesty I was quite disappointed with the choice in venue; with it’s too high and too far away stage, The Academy often feels a little impersonal and arena-like. But hey, The Courteeners were in town, I wasn’t complaining.
The job of warming up the crowd was given to London five-piece, Goldhawks, who put on a more than creditable performance despite the unusually lethargic Scottish crowd. They managed to blend the dramatic chords and sweeping melodies distinctive to bands like Echo and The Bunnymen with the simplicity of American stadium rock. However, what really caught the eye was the band’s confidence and obvious self belief. Singer Bobby Cook, especially, impressed with both his vocal talent and assertive stage performance (although my friend - it must be noted this was her first ever gig - was rather concerned that his fringe seemed to be getting in his eyes a lot and he’d be better off cutting it). It’s a shame really that most people inside the venue were more interested in grabbing a beer than watching the band but those of us who were paying attention thoroughly enjoyed their set and they’re definitely a band I’d like to see more of in the future.
Ironically, as the usual pre gig tunes kicked in, the crowd soon woke up. I found it quite sad that the majority of the venue could jump about erratically for a recording of a Kasabian song yet they couldn’t muster up a clap for a talented young band standing in front of them. Nonetheless, we were all there for the same thing and as soon as The Courteeners’ customary intro of Rock n Roll Star kicked in (played in it’s entirety of course; the teases!) the venue descended into a frenzy of crowd surfing and chanting. Not bad considering the band hadn’t even took to the stage yet (I’d appreciate it if the “here we fucking go chants” would stop though; they’re getting a bit old).
When The Courteeners did take to the stage, to deafening roars naturally, they kicked things off in the best possible way with fan favourites “Acrylic” and “Cavorting”. But, as the stage backdrop clearly conveyed, the purpose of the night was to unveil new album Falcon to the crowd, which they did so with style thanks to “Will It Be This Way Forever?” and “Good Times Are Calling”. I was surprised at how many people were word perfect on these tracks; turns out I’m not the only sad act then!
One of the big highlights of the night was the illustrious “The Opener” which saw the crowd step up yet another notch when joining in with the growling (my onomatopoeia skills sadly aren’t good enough to sound out said growling). It was evident the band were putting everything into this performance but, it has to be said, the crowd were giving just as much back. The sing longs to “Bide Your Time” and “Please Don’t” were among some of the most passionate I’ve ever heard in three years of gigging.
Then, of course, there was Liam Fray’s obligatory solo set. I’m sure we’ve all heard the Gallagher comparisons, sadly they’re always going to be around, but really, I feel they do Liam injustice. Maybe not talent wise, but with all due respect to Mr Gallagher, I very much doubt he had the charm and charisma that Liam radiates. He was on fire the entire night, cavorting (ooh, pun) about the stage, winking cheekily at members of the crowd (yes, he did wink at me and yes, I did turn straight to my friend and make a strange “eep”ing noise) and just generally being an all round fantastic front man. Anyway, I digress, the solo set brought us a few acoustic gems, namely “No You Didn’t, No You Don’t”, “How Come” and the beautifully heartfelt “The Rest of The World Has Gone Home”.
But it was when Campbell, Conan and Cuppello returned to the stage that The Courteeners really pulled out all the stops. An encore of “You Overdid It Doll”, “Not Nineteen Forever” and, of course, “What Took You So Long” caused the crowd to fully erupt in to beautiful chaos. In fact, the intensity of WTYSL proved to be too much for a couple of my friends who found themselves being hauled over the barrier. I really should have left at this point, you know, to try and rescue them, but I couldn’t help sticking around for the interlude of “Tomorrow” by James which Liam always incorporates into the track. Being one of my all time favourite songs, this really rounded off a near-perfect night for me. And it’s safe to say, both the crowd and the band felt the same way. Liam thanked the crowd with such sincerity that it was hard not to believe him when he told us we were “as good as Manchester”. Glasgow really has taken The Courteeners to their hearts and I have a feeling next time it could be the SECC they’re headlining.
Again, I apologise for the length and lack in quality of this “review”, won’t happen again I promise!