This is what happened when Teenage Fanclub took over the Corner Hotel
From the opening few bars of Teenage Fanclub’s set, it was evident that their current live show is fairly restrained. A far cry from Reading Festival 1992, but that was no surprise and no crime.
The initial lack of guitar-power in the mix was faintly worrying, and rendered both new and old material quite lifeless. The main issue being that the band’s approach, in both volume and energy, was right in the middle of the spectrum – neither loud in the all-enveloping sense, nor soft enough to give the songs a delicate fragility.
The three singer/songwriters shared the expansive 20 song set evenly. The first appearance of 1995’s Grand Prix material was Raymond McGinley’s lacklustre Verisimilitude, but he soon hit the mark with album opener About You. His lead work was measured and a little safe, but he made up for this with precision and tone. The highlight of McGinley’s songs was Your Love Is The Place Where I Come From, the earnest opening lines and bareness of the song provided one of only a few compelling dynamic shifts in the set.
Standing in the middle, Norman Blake ostensibly took on the frontman role, occasionally addressing the crowd in a thick Scottish accent. Blake had great moments in I Don’t Want Control Of You and Dumb Dumb Dumb, the simplicity and tenderness in its Stand By Me-like rhythm winning over the room. The bulk of his big hits from Bandwagonesque, such as What You Do To Me and Alcoholiday, were noticeably absent.
The quietest achiever and most absorbing member was bassist Gerard Love. His career-long dedication to singing like early Byrds’ leader Roger McGuinn and his ‘60s bass-playing style may in fact be the main reason why Teenage Fanclub recall bands of that era. His voice carried beautifully, reeling off masterful songs such as Don’t Look Back, Ain’t That Enough, I Need Direction, and of course, Sparky’s Dream.
Their three-part harmonies were fantastic, as expected. Set-closer The Concept got a predictably big response, but its gorgeous outro somehow escaped the languidness that permeated the rest of the set, and felt uncomfortably rushed.
Teenage Fanclub quickly reappeared for an encore featuring a cover of Go-Between Grant McLennan’s Easy Come Easy Go, one additional Bandwagonesque song in Star Sign, and a great closer in first-ever single, Everything Flows. Ending with three guitars soloing concurrently, this was the other, more reckless side of Teenage Fanclub that fans wished they were reminded of more frequently throughout the show.
Words by Lee Parker
Image by Lewis Nixon
Highlights: Gerard Love’s songs.
Lowlights: A few of the new songs.
Crowd Favourite: The Concept.