The Courteeners take to the stage in the beautifully opulent surroundings of the Empress Ballroom in the Winter Gardens, Blackpool, which is the first night of two warm up shows before the band head back to Manchester to embark on their mammoth 50,000 capacity sold out homecoming concert at Heaton Park.
The dedication and love from the fans for the lads from Middleton is evident as the ballroom erupts as Liam Fray and his comrades take to the stage.
The opening track is ‘Are You In Love With The Notion’. Plastic pint glasses are launched like missiles, smoke bellows from flares and the room erupts into a sea of absolute mayhem and beautiful chaos. The usual second track of the set ‘Cavorting’, is replaced by ‘Modern Love’, which is followed by the band’s iconic early anthem ‘Acrylic’. After which, Liam jokes with the crowd, “it’s not a bad night out for a Monday”, before they launch into another anthemic masterpiece ‘How good It Was’ from their studio album Concrete Love.
‘The Opener’ is received with absolute rapture from the crowd, who sing along and are hanging on to Liam Fray’s every word. The song tells the story of how the Mancunian’s have travelled the world but their heart will always belong to the City they grew up in. Owing to the growing momentum, loyalty and dedication of the band’s fan base, the lyrics “I was made for this place and I was made for you” transcends to any city The Courteeners find themselves entertaining.
The set continues with ‘Van Der Graaff’, ‘Small Bones’, ‘Take over The World’, ‘Lose Control’ and a stunning rendition of ‘17th’, arguably the stand out track on their 5th studio album Mapping The Rendezvous, which brings the first chapter of the set to a close.
Fray returns to the stage with his acoustic guitar and plays new track ‘Cloud’ which gives the crowd a glimpse into the much anticipated 6th studio album which is yet to be given a release date. A beautiful stripped back acoustic version of ‘Please Don’t’ is followed by ‘Smith’s Disco’.
The rest of the band take to the stage and launch into ‘Heavy Jacket’, followed by the banging snare drum intro of the beautifully youthful track ‘Here Come The Young Men’, which has the crowd yet again back in the palm of the band’s mighty hand. As we come to the final two tracks of the evening, it’s not a secret how the story ends. The whole crowd knows the tale off by heart. That is what makes the musical journey of the night so incredibly special. The organ of the penultimate track ‘Not Nineteen Forever’ begins and the enthusiasm and admiration for the band launches this Grade II listed building built in 1878 into an absolute frenzy of musical hysteria. The evening draws to a close with the most iconic of the bands tracks, ‘What Took You So Long?’
The Courteeners are a band who at large have been shunned by mainstream radio and media. But, the love and admiration from those who know, make them one of life’s best kept secrets. If you know, you know. And if you are lucky enough to know, your life is musically enriched by the anthemic magic delivered by this band who have without question firmly cemented themselves into the musical timeline as one of those great iconic bands from the city of Manchester.
Words & Pics: Jonathan Taylor