Friday night. Courteeners. Royal Albert Hall. What a recipe...
A decade since the release of their seminal debut LP St.Jude, tonight Courteeners perform the album in its entirety. Along with some additional treats.
Supported by Blossoms and arriving onstage to the sound of Oasis’s 'Morning Glory', it’s an all Mancunian affair in West London this evening.
As 9pm hits, Liam Fray and co appear on a dimly lit stage and are greeted by five thousand pairs of hands. Armed with his cherry red Gibson electric, proceedings begin with ‘Aftershow’, the opening track from St.Jude. Shortly after, the band perform ‘Cavorting’ which is undoubtably one of the album’s most memorable moments.
Crowd and band are both in full swing right from the evening’s opening chord. No time to warm up. Thousands enjoying their pints and thousands spilling their pints as the Royal Albert Hall bounces to one of Manchester’s finest. The weekend has begun. The hangovers can wait.
The setlist is delightful. St.Jude is largely performed in its original order. Any fillers are absent tonight. Classics such as ‘Please Don’t’ and ‘No You Didn’t, No You Don’t are replicated live with apparent ease. The band sound tight and Liam Fray’s vocals are on point as he has 5,000 other voices accompanying him. There’s no issue in the case of any forgotten lyrics. Noticeably, the frontman indeed promotes the fans to lead vocals on several occasions as he steps away from the microphone to wonder the stage.
An hour in and several pints down, Liam Fray goes solo. The rest of the band vacate the stage as the frontman performs ‘How Come?’, ‘Yesterday, Today and Probably Tomorrow’, and ‘Smiths Disco’ with just an acoustic and a voice. It’s a real highlight. That distinctive Mancunian vocal is heard at its optimum as the volume drops and his electric is replaced with his acoustic.
Throughout the gig Fray continues to urge fans to donate to the evenings cause; Teenage Cancer Trust. For eighteen years bands and artists have been at the forefront of raising funds and awareness for an incredible charity. Hugely admirable.
The twenty three song set is also littered with various other anthems from the band’s other four LP’s which includes 2016’s brilliant ‘Mapping the Rendezvous’. Every successful artist has an iconic record. Often their debut. However, Courteeners have an impressive back catalogue certainly worth singing about. As tonight demonstrates.
‘Are You In Love With a Notion?’ taken from 2013’s ‘Anna’ LP and ‘No One Will Ever Replace Us’ from their latest effort are evidently crowd favourites as the volume rises once more.
Ninety minutes fly by and the stage silences as the set concludes with ‘Here Come The Young Men’. Reluctantly, beers are momentarily grounded as the crowd offer generous applause for a sublime performance. Surely not leaving us two songs short though?
A long two minutes later, the band return for the obligatory encore. ‘Not Nineteen Forever’ sends the Albert Hall berserk. Those spilt pints become thrown pints down at the front. Undeniably one of the finest indie tunes written this side of the noughties. A mass singalong to ‘What Took You So Long?’ really does conclude the set this time around.
This evening Courteeners delivered a joyous and triumphant performance in intimate surroundings. All for an incredible cause. Let the hangovers commence.
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