If ever Teenage Fanclub needed proof of their validity over a decade after they began, they only need look around...
If ever Teenage Fanclub needed proof of their validity over a decade after they began, they only need look around. Forget the pre-gig buzz of anticipation and the shouts for old favourites, tonight’s crowd have already shown their devotion in the most simple, tangible way. They’re here. Considering several nearby main roads have just been closed, the city’s river officially burst its banks this afternoon and the heavy rain shows no signs of abating, that alone has got to be worth something.
Maybe inspired by that, the band seem disarmingly relaxed, happy to slip up occasionally or mumble through unplanned anecdotes (one inexplicably concerning a soldier drinking cappuccino) like they’re chatting to old friends. This isn’t even entirely familiar territory: though the band might be well-seasoned, most of tonight’s set comes from recent sixth album ‘Howdy!’ and is clearly still new to many here. But it’s an injection of uncertainty desperately needed, hopefully enough to make everyone remember Teenage Fanclub aren’t just a distant fond memory, a band who once made great albums (‘Bandwagonesque’, ‘Grand Prix’, to name just two), but one worth noticing [I]now[/I]. They deserve just as much reverence as that other Band With A History, Shack.
Especially as the songs seem to be getting better. Stringy haired Norman Blake swigs at his bottle of water and tugs his shirt down bashfully, the endearing frontman of a band whose haircuts, ageing and average dress sense just don’t matter. With the classic ‘Sparky’s Dream’ relegated to the encore, the new songs are allowed space to show their gorgeous wistfulness; more melancholic than previous Fanclub offerings but retaining their trademark Byrds-aping harmonies. Recent single ‘I Need Direction’ is typical, confused in sentiment but still sounding like a shiny, happy pop song. ‘Cul De Sac’, too, is blissfully gentle, with guitar strums alternating with delicate chimes.
Although the loyalty of the fans here to worship their oldest tracks might be commendable, now Teenage Fanclub need to work on converting those who don’t know or care about their legacy. They’ve got a new
record in a new century. And they deserve to be treasured simply for that.