The Courteeners - Manchester Central (11/12/2009)

Adam Ogle | Thursday, 17 December 2009

The Courteeners - Manchester Central (11/12/2009)

Manchester crowds are notoriously excitable and larey, and for a band like their own such as The Courteeners, it was no different. Empty bottles and cups of bodily fluid had been airborne long before the first chord of 'Rock 'N' Roll Star' belted out of Manchester Central's sound system, signalling that Liam Fray and his clan's arrival was imminent.

Given the crowd's child-like anticipation for the return of The Courteeners, it could be considered a strange decision to dampen the atmosphere by kicking off with a new number. 'Will It Be This Way Forever' signalled a slightly mellow and maturing change in direction for the group.

On the flipside to the theory of dampening the atmosphere, it could be said that the opener only built it up further so that the pumped-up deliverance of 'Cavorting' could provide the chance to release the pent-up enthusiasm of the loyal followers that the group have attracted thanks to the excellent St Jude debut album.

It is common knowledge that The Courteeners have a new album on the way. So it was always going to be the case that this gig would be the perfect opportunity to showcase several new tracks. That in mind, you can also overdo it. After Cavorting and the ever popular debut album secret track 'Acrylic', two new numbers 'The Good Times Are Calling' and 'The Opener' were sandwiched by the angry 'If It Wasn't For Me'.

The pattern of performing new/old songs alternatively created an atmosphere almost like a football match; it was if the fans were celebrating a goal when going berserk to the old favourites, a contrast to standing despondently after conceding a couple of minutes later when digesting the new material.

Without a doubt the highlight of the set was the fantastic lad anthem 'Bide Your Time', in which an appreciative and over-awed Fray just stood as the crowd sang back the second verse in excellent fashion. This was closely followed by a stunning acoustic version of 'How Come'. St Jude was an album jam-packed with big ballsy indie songs, yet from first listen the new songs sound a more solid and safe. The exception being the pick of the new bunch, 'Cross My Heart And Hope To Fly', a psychedelic yet infectious track in which Fray revelled in when performing.

This left only two songs, and it was the two songs that 99% of these fans would have paid their entry for: the nostalgic 'Not Nineteen Forever' and the irrepressible 'What Took You So Long'. The Courteeners had proved they can pull off the big show.

Rating: 4/5