Preview – The Courteeners at Heaton Park, Manchester

The city of Manchester has for many years produced the very best in music nationally and internationally. Two bands that have helped define the city for 25 years now are The Stone Roses and Oasis – both giants that have emerged from the area and spread like wildfire across the globe, one for longer than another. They are the last two bands to have played standalone gigs at Heaton Park, the green space that is the gap between Prestwich and Middleton. As these two bands were shining in the city, 4 lads from the latter of those two towns were growing up probably dreaming of playing the same stage. On Friday, they are.

The likenesses to Spike Island in 1990 have been taken with a pinch of salt by most, but there’s something about Friday night that feels like a date to define a generation of music fans that pleaded for the cult following that bands all through time have had. Since their formation in 2006 they have gathered exactly that sort of following. When you look back to the house party gigs and battling for slots in the city’s nursery venues, there is a sense that Friday 5th June could be when it all comes together and there’s a dream realised.

Since playing at Castlefield Bowl, a gig many regard as their best ever, they have grown in the face of those that said they might have shrunk. The release of “Concrete Love” last year brought on a tour in which there was no Manchester date. Instead, it culminated in Liverpool – a show that was missing something, something maybe a hometown gig adds like no other. Yes, it will lack the authenticity that gigs like Spike Island had; but as 25,000 descend on Heaton Park on Friday there’ll be plenty faces that have been there from the start, and that will be special, whatever you want to compare it to.

Last night’s warm-up gig in Leeds saw the introduction of ‘International’ and ‘Beautiful Head’, both from the band’s latest album and both slotted in as a trial as the setlist for Friday will no doubt be to its’ 50th draft. Earlier songs missed out, ‘Acrylic’ and ‘No You Didn’t No You Don’t’ stayed in the dressing room, as did ‘Sunflower’ – perfect as the sun shines on Manchester come Friday (it won’t). Trying to handpick a setlist is a thankless task, and favourites will miss out.

Late bloomer’s Peace are on before them, following Manchester’s Bipolar Sunshine and Blossoms in a celebration of new music, bands that have followed a similar pattern to the headline act, with the latter two just waiting to explode.

As ‘Morning Glory’ engulfs the crowd, and those same 4 shaggy-haired boys from round the corner walk on stage to pay a visit to a set of fans that’ve followed them since they burst onto the scene, there won’t be anywhere in the world you’d rather be. They’ll rip into their opener, maybe ‘The Opener’, and make history as yet another band to win over the city and play at it’s biggest venue.

And it’s gonna be magic.


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