The Courteeners: Cambridge Junction – live review
The Courteeners / The Tapestry
5th March 2013
The Courteeners are a funny bunch. Very obviously Mancunian, they have a massive following in their hometown, to the extent that they can sell out the 15,000 Manchester Arena, but yet not the more modest Junction in Cambridge, even though it’s three years since they’ve been here. True to those Mancunian roots, the evening is delayed by half an hour to allow them to catch the Madrid game and the evening is punctuated by shouts of Manchester and also some insane Smiths requests.
Opening up the evening are The Tapestry. What’s great about Manchester bands that you don’t get elsewhere is how they look after their own and remember how they got their break and they’re on this tour because The Courteeners love them, and so should you. A four-piece, they have the perfect look. A lead singer / guitarist with the wit to tell the crowd he’s the second best looking frontman in Manchester after Guy Garvey, a female bass player with blonde curly hair who just oozes effortless cool, a slightly manic guitarist who looks off his rocker, but still manages to pull off cracking guitar lines despite his pants looking like they’ll fall down at any minute and a female drummer who puts to bed the notion that sticks should only be held by men once and for all. They’ve got catchy, singalong tunes, hooks to die for and you need to hear them.
The Courteeners set is heavily based on their debut album St Jude and the recent top ten album Anna. As expected, it’s the older material that gets the best reaction, there’s a moshpit in the middle for the hit singles Cavorting, Acrylic and Not Nineteen Forever and even for the album tracks off St Jude. They’re not just about singalong choruses though, there’s a slowed down acoustic section in the middle where Liam takes control of proceedings and silences the chatterers. They’re also brave enough to ditch crowd favourites such as The Opener and You Overdid It Doll to focus on the new album. And those songs don’t feel out of place with the crowd singing back most of the choruses as if they were old favourites.
Liam has the crowd eating out of the palm of his hand too. He has that unique Mancunian charm and swagger that borders on arrogance that makes some people dislike him, but he’s an enthralling frontman, and he can sing and play guitar, as he demonstrates in the stripped-back acoustic session mid-set. There’s no encore ritual, staying true to their roots, they finish with their traditional set-closer What Took You So Long, with a section of James’ Tomorrow in there, almost as an education and a nod to their younger fans. They handle sound problems with consummate ease as well.
Their fanbase is important to them, there’s a connection there from the stage to the crowd, a recognition that they’re living their dream and singing about not just their own lives but those of the people they’re singing to. It may be a lot less people in provincial towns than it is at home, but they’re one of the few bands that are making a difference, as shown by the top ten showing of their latest album Anna despite being ignored by Radio 1.
The Courteeners played :
Are You In Love With A Notion
Van Der Graaff
Bide Your Time
When You Want Something You Can’t Have
Take Over The World
Last Of The Ladies
The Rest Of The World Has Gone Home
Kings Of The New Road
Here Come The Young Men
Not Nineteen Forever
What Took You So Long? / Tomorrow
The Courteeners have the following UK shows scheduled :
7 March – Bristol Academy (with The Tapestry)
8 March – Blackpool Empress Ballroom
9 March – Oxford Academy (with The Tapestry)
11 March – Leicester O2 Academy
12 March – Cardiff Solus Bar
14 March – Newcastle O2 Academy
15 March – Sheffield O2 Academy
16 March – London Brixton Academy
All words by David Brown. You can see more of David’s work on Louder Than War here