A Courteeners tour without a Manchester date is – to say the least – a rarity. However the band’s Autumn 2014 Tour has lent its finishing date to Manchester’s musical sister, Liverpool, a city far from having a lack of musical heritage. In the months leading up to the Echo Arena gig there has been a constant undertone of a desire to obtain a gold-dust ticket to see the Manchester quartet, who have established themselves as a force to be reckoned with in the popular music scene, with latest album ‘Concrete Love’ peaking at #3 on the albums chart.
A beautiful mixture of fans old and new filled the arena’s concourse in typically electric anticipation for a band that means so much to so many. As the start of the show crept closer, the ever increasing crowd grew antsy, perhaps through a concoction of further inebriation and the slight tickle of the typical turf rivalry that so often plagues these shows. Nevertheless, the time came for the 4 Mancunians to complete their tour in style. Frontman Liam Fray, brandishing his White Falcon guitar, pounded the crowd with tracks like the anthemic ‘Are You In Love With A Notion’ and raw classic ‘Cavorting’. The evening was literally in full swing with bodies and bottles being flung from all corners. Searing renditions of ‘White Horses’ and ‘How Good It Was’ displayed Fray’s constantly improving musical ability, as well as the crowds undying passion to follow the band through each album they produce – every word being belted back to them as if the crowd wrote the songs themselves.
However, the Courteeners’ relatively new found precision and ‘style’ that rightly impresses many, could be said to have taken some other aspect from their live performances. After the opening few songs, the excitement died down and the previous electric atmosphere seemed to have been sucked out through the air vents. It would be fair to argue there wasn’t that last-show-of-the-tour fire that would usually be found at a Courteeners gig, the message nowadays seems to be more “hold my hand and we’ll drink some wine” than being “too tired to eat and too hungry to sleep”, which doesn’t seem to appeal as much to the omnipresent following.
It may be that we have been spoiled by previously consistent top quality performances from the Courteeners or that a Liverpudlian arena is slightly less welcoming than one in Manchester, but on the whole, the gig was tepid and slow moving, despite being note perfect. At a 2012 Manchester show Fray uttered the excuse “it wouldn’t be a Courteeners gig if we didn’t fuck up” after making a mistake in the intro to his acoustic section. It seems that this is the attitude that many fans are yearning for; we could go to a Coldplay gig if we wanted note perfect love songs. Courteeners gigs have fire, energy, and relatability, even if that comes with a couple of mistakes and a bit of rough and tumble.
However, frustrating though it is to watch a band grow out of what it was that made us fall in love with them, they will always be the band “from all the way over there”. With a sold out Heaton Park show to look forward to and an ever growing fan base, the Courteeners are still to hit their peak. God bless the band.
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Review by Joe Muldoon | @joey_muldoon