Review: The Courteeners - Metro Radio Arena, Nov 23rd

Sophie Henderson takes in the atmosphere at the latest Courteeners tour

6th December 2018
Photo Credit: Sophie Henderson

The atmosphere at a Courteeners gig is regularly compared to a football match. The incarnation of lad culture, Courteeners are the defiant underdogs of the Manchester music scene; they had no problem attracting an anarchic crowd just shy of 10,000 on a Friday night at the Metro Radio Arena.

The band’s frontman Liam Fray sported a newly blonde buzzcut, and alongside their textbook opening (‘Are You in Love With a Notion?’ / ‘Cavorting’), he was sure to include an array of new tracks from their upcoming new album. According to NME, ‘the worst years he’s had’ are shaping their ‘bolder, braver, adventurous’ new album.’ Should we say he is ‘Trying to be a better man’? It was certainly hinted at.

And whilst the band did present a more mature, refined sound, they continued to please fans with anticipated tracks such as ‘Small Bones’ and ‘Lose Control.’A consistent touring schedule gives Courteeners an air of control over the audience, as though a lasting impression has been firmly established and there is little to no one in the crowd to impress or influence.

For that reason Fray’s perfected façade remained bold and brash. His black and white shirt replicated the rowdy nature of a fanbase so loyal, as an intimate acoustic segment paved the way towards the gig’s culmination, both brash and thankful with: ‘God bless you Newcastle that’s a fucking B side.’

Marmite in nature, Courteeners remained true to their roots despite being a little further North than their home town of Middleton. The classic ‘Not Nineteen Forever’ / ‘What Took You So Long?’ finale was adorned by a mass chant of middle-aged men, their teenage sons and your average indie devotee. A rendition of James’ ‘Tomorrow’ - an acclaimed masterwork on the Manc music scene - was sandwiched within the final track. We were pleasantly reminded that Courteeners would rather remain true to their fanbase than lead their well-established charisma astray.

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