“Unbelievable!” That’s how Liam Fray described the Courteeners’ massive Heaton Park extravaganza this weekend. But don’t take his word for it. Here’s 13 stunning photos from the event…
"A Champions League final you've already won: all we've got to do is put our boots on and lift the trophy." That's how The Courteeners' Liam Fray told NME he was feeling about the band's homecoming show at Manchester's Heaton Park. But did they triumph on the biggest gig of their life, which took place last Friday (June 5)? Here they are, arriving at the stadium for the show...
Earlier in the evening, support bands Blossoms and Bipolar Sunshine played in support of the group, while Peace were the main support act. Bringing out tracks from across their two albums, the Birmingham group were also left without regular drummer Dominic Boyce, who was unable to play due to a leg injury. The band were joined by a replacement drummer plus Superfood singer Dom Ganderton.
25,000 fans were huddled inside Heaton Park for the show, which sold out in under an hour when it was first announced. Sadly, though, there was no Morrissey – even though Fray had jokingly revealed beforehand that he'd invited the former Smiths singer to pop down and watch.
Coming on at 9.15pm to a set decorated with shipping containers, The Courteeners kicked off with 'Notion' as a host of people in the crowd set off flares despite signs on the screens explicitly reading that people lighting flares would be ejected from the event.
The band, led by singer Fray who was sporting a white denim jacket, continued into 2008 track 'Cavorting' and a selection of more recent offerings including 'How Good It Was' and 'Summer'.
Shouting out to the support bands they then continued with minimal stage chat into a host of tracks taken from across their four albums including 'Lose Control' and 'Take Over The World', leading into the latter portion of their lengthy 22-song set.
'Bide Your Time' saw the crowd sing the entire chorus for Fray, while old tracks including 'Acrylic' were also greeted fervently by the crowd, who continued to let off flares throughout.
They then introduced debut album track 'Please Don't' during which Fray descended into the crowd.
The Courteeners also played songs including 'Here Come The Young Men', 'Sycophant', 'Fallowfield' and 'How Good It Was'.
Coming to the end of the set, the band played 'Not Nineteen Forever' before Fray addressed the crowd. "This is unbelievable, it's not just tonight, this is for the last eight years. It's not just our night, it's your night too," he said.
They then played set closer 'What Took You So Long' as confetti cannons burst over the crowd, uniting at the front to take a bow before Fray went back down to the front row to shake people's hands.
"It feels like the biggest victory ever," said Fray before the show. "We're almost underground, if you like. It feels like we're the biggest underground band in the world. We can do this big gig, but if you went down the street and asked ‘Have you heard of The Courteeners?’ loads of people would say ‘No, we haven't got a clue!’."
And here they are at the end after a hard day at the office. Next stop: Glastonbury...