Blackpool, Empress Ballroom
Matthew Duffy reviews epically triumphant live set by Middleton quartet The Courteeners in support of their latest album ANNA, with pictures by photographer Hayley Taylor.
It’s a cold, wet, miserable evening in Blackpool. But outside the Empress Ballroom in the town centre, the wind and the drizzle is not dampening the mood. Why? Because it’s Friday night and The Courteeners are in town. The band are just past the half way mark on the 2013 ANNA tour, and if there was any concern that Fray, Campbell, Cuppello and Conan (accompanied by Adam Payne on keys) were showing signs of slowing down, then tonight’s quite colossal set of 24 songs soon lays to rest any doubts.
The set itself touched upon all 3 studio albums; St. Jude, Falcon and, of course, ANNA, and also thrown in for good measure was the crowd pleaser and forever requested b-side, “Smiths Disco”.
The atmosphere in the Ballroom was one of excitement and anticipation, and as soon as Campbell’s drum beat to “Are You In Love With a Notion?” it was all too obvious it was going to be another one of those nights with The Courteeners. Crowd surfing, flying liquids, both cold and warm, and a foot stamping, sing your heart out approach! Nothing new to the young men from Middleton who have now built up one of the most fiercely loyal fan bases in music today.
The first 5 songs set the tone for the evening perfectly. “Are You In Love With a Notion?”, “Push Yourself”, “Lose Control” and two guaranteed crowd pleasers in the guise of “Cavorting” and “Acrylic” had the crowd bouncing from the word go!
The quite monumental set went from strength to strength, with fans screaming lyrics right back at Fray & Co. Highlights included the guitar mastery of Fray and Conan on “Van Der Graaff”, the touching and deeply personal “Marquee” and “Something You Can’t Have”. “Sycophant” was delivered with conviction by both band and crowd, then there was the heavyweight tune “Money” to gee the crowd up just that little bit more. Not that they needed it!
Fray acknowledged the audience by thanking them for their continued support and reassured the faithful that despite minimal radio air time and media coverage, The Courteeners are here to stay. And on the evidence of the evening’s performance the fans are going to be right there with them for a very long time.
As the evening finally drew towards a close, 5 more Courteeners’ anthems were belted out with every fan in the Ballroom singing along to “The Opener”, “Welcome To the Rave”, “Here Come the Young Men” and the now favourite anthems of “Not Nineteen Forever” and “What Took You So Long” ended the set.
For a set list of such magnitude, I’m still finding it hard to believe that ticket prices for this evening were only a mere £19.50! An absolutely remarkable evening of superb music stamped with authority by The Courteeners.
As Fray said earlier in the evening, “The Courteeners are here to stay”. And whether the critics like it or not, they had better get used to it.
More photos by Hayley Taylor: