Since the heat of the Mancunian summer at Castlefield Bowl in July, this was the first chance many fans had been given to see The Courteeners live again. Armed with their now well-known three albums and a backlog of B-sides, there is a feeling that this band who burst onto the scene of lad-rock and were predicted to be a short-lasting success may stick around for a while yet. The band have had their critics since day 1, but most recently the press have been critical of a new direction – similar to what we’ve seen happen to the Arctic Monkeys recently. Although, there definitely didn’t seem to be many critics amongst the 1800 that squeezed into the intimate 53 Degrees on a Monday night to kick-start another tour.
Entering with Are You In Love With A Notion after a polite “Evening all”, the band played 5 songs without a pause. Welcome To The Rave, Cavorting, Acyrlic were followed by If It Wasn’t For Me, which hadn’t been played in recent times. The hat-trick of songs from the band’s arguably most popular album seemed to be as popular as ever with a faithful travelling from different parts of the north-west. A cult mirroring the likes of The Stone Roses and Oasis.
A pause gave time for Liam, the voice of the band in more ways than one, to express gratitude at a rapturous reception for the opening songs. ANNA tune When You Want Something You Can’t Have, a vivid reference to idols The Smiths was presented with more emotion than usual – potentially something only found at the smaller venues. Similarly, Please Don’t, however the microphone faced the crowd for a while allowing the down-to-earth lyrics to be sung back to the band. Wearing a Van der Graaff t-shirt, Liam Fray followed a showing of the number 57 on the back by the song itself. From one time swiftly to another, Bide Your Time was possibly the best of the lot, a catchy track that was a favourite from St Jude. Push Yourself paved the way for Save Rosemary In Time – which maybe isn’t played enough as it deserves.
The omission of That Kiss allowed room for Take Over The World after Lose Control and the punchy Sycophant. Liam then followed with 3 acoustic songs; Marquee, Smiths Disco and The Rest of The World Has Gone Home, even if the crowd here were far from it. The lad anthem Here Come The Young Men was as good as ever, and as soon as the organ intro to Not Nineteen Forever began, 53 Degrees prepared itself again. “God bless the band, they’re doing all they can.” A lyric sung by Liam; facing Mark, Michael, Conan and Adam. What Took You So Long was the final of 21 songs, introduced with more appreciation of the fans – “A pleasure and a privilege.”
The Courteeners may be criticised, heavily in some cases, by many journalists. It is questionable whether any other current young band in this region of the country gets the same reaction as they do, whether they actually any good or not is a matter of opinion.