The Courteeners are easily some of the most loved Mancunians to ever enter Liverpool. Probably helped by the large amount of Manchester folk packed into our increasingly famous yet still relatively new Echo Arena. Touring in support of their latest record ‘Concrete Love’ which has lived up to the much deserved hype that now comes with every Courteeners record. Liam Fray’s songwriting and live performance has never been doubted and this band always put on a show. For this very reason myself and thousands more expected them to deliver big on their Liverpool, Echo Arena debut and boy did they!
Given the tricky task of kicking us off was another Manc-band; Blossoms. Breaking into a 25 minute set comprimising of hits ‘You Pulled A Gun On Me’ and ‘Blow’ and a few lesser known tracks which could well appear on their debut album set to be released on Skeleton Key Records in the new year. They’re clearly going places Blossoms, there’s now shortage of musicians backing them. For example to be signed to James Skelly’s (The Coral) record label and to be picked out by Liam Fray frontman of The Courteeners (who goes to great effort to pick the support bands for all their tours) to play alongside them on arguably their most anticipated tour to date, you’ve got to be doing something right eh?
Liam Fray booked two significantly different acts to support them on the majority of this tour in Blossoms and Liverpool natives Circa Waves. Blossoms starting with a sound oozing passion and guitar flowing retro-psych-pop which sends you on trip back to the mid-60s. Then into the energetic, fast-paced Circa Waves teaming sweaty riffs with assured vocals they sound top-notch. Having the crowd behind you is key as a support act and that is certainly the case with Circa’s, Liverpool fucking loves them.
The biggest challenge of all throughout this gig, trying to find a fellow Liverpudlian. I mean I felt surrounded by people from Bolton, Wigan and Manchester, feeling a minority in your own venue is a weird one haha.
Anyway onto Courteeners. Entering the stage to Tame Impala pumped up an already vocal and alcohol fuelled crowd. Wasting no time belting out ‘Notion’ arguably the main hit from their third album Anna before keeping up the intensity with fan-favourite ‘Cavorting’ and the irresistable ‘Lose Control’. Before ending a hard-hitting and sweaty quartet of opening tracks with the lead track from new album Concrete Love ‘White Horses’.
Fray then offered up a rest to the standing sections bodies with a couple of slightly slower tracks before heading into ‘Saboteur’ an absolute belter from the latest record with a pounding riff and bass combo siding with polished vocals from Mr. Fray this one is going to be a live winner for years to come. Another fan favourite ‘Sycophant’ followed before the beautiful acoustic version of ‘Small Bones’ performed in it’s enterity by Fray alone. Offering perfect moment for people to scale eachothers shoulders and sway lovingly whilst singing along whilst gazing at the stunning light show as the entire arena blacked out except for a spotlight on Fray and the picturesque bold, colourful lettering behind him on the stage wall. Fray and co. then left the stage for a brief moment before returning to play four more tracks in a mini-pre encore set which included ‘International’ a lovely toned back track from the latest record and the sing-a-long classic ‘Please Don’t’. They teased a finish once again not that anyone in the now pretty rowdy Liverpool crowd believed it for a second, especially with ‘Not Nineteen Forever’ yet to be played and several people standing with un-opened smoke bombs and pyro (it still amazes me how they get these into shows haha.)
The third coming on-stage was kicked off with the catchy ‘Here Come The Young Men’ before delving into their answer to the life-long single ‘Not Nineteen Forever’ which I still envisage being played at 19th birthdays and teenage parties in the 22nd century and for good reason. It’s a banger isn’t it! Smoke Bombs were then set-off smoking out the Echo Arena in a see of Red & Blue (it actually looked good to be honest haha.)
Taking time out before playing out the finale Liam Fray praised the crowds energy and stamina before saying: “We fucking love it here, nice one Liverpool!” Ending a messy, rowdy and on-form set with ‘What Took You So Long’, the band gave it their all to the finish and probably gave a few a rough start to their Saturday morning with bumps, bruises and hangovers but it’s all worth it, it always is when The Courteeners are in town!