Live Review: The Courteeners (Manchester Apollo 12/12/15)

Consistency is a strange concept, we can find value in a band being consistently good but also frustrated with one being too consistent, too much the same. The Courteeners epitomise the perfect balance of different types of consistency. People come again and again to see this band, they’re in the midst of playing 7 nights in their hometown, yet this tour’s setlists have be inconsistent enough to appreciate the depth of this band’s catalogue.

Christmas is Courteeners season, December would be empty without it, and the build up to Christmas is certainly underway as Liam Fray and his band, armed with a new bassist Joe Cross rip once agains into Are You In Love With A Notion?, now the staple opening track for over 2 years.

Previous to this, Stockport’s Blossoms continued their rise, showing off their new Charlemagne EP. They provided the final support on what could be, along with next week in the case of Reverend and The Makers, billed as a gig with two headline acts as opposed to one and a warm-up band.

There’s little space for conversation at the beginning of their set, but Please Don’t gave the opportunity for the front rows to enjoy the intimacy of the venue toe to toe with Fray. They found no place for the section of Standing Here, often a highlight and a live special. 

The acoustic tracks, as per usual, make up the middle part of the night. They do allow time for a word, and the frontman dedicates that time to explaining what it is about homelessness at this time of the year that is makes it so worth writing a song to raise money for, Winter Wonderland is excellent, and Hometown One, another example of the strength of The Courteeners’ back discography.

Here Come The Young Men is dedicated “to anyone from Manchester” and what feels like most of the town on the Apollo floor respond emphatically to the last songs and the similar introductions that go with them. The best version of Not Nineteen Forever indoor came soon after, before What Took You So Long?, the closer of that pivotal first album closes the gig.

It is a pleasure watching this band consistently perform, and when you struggle to guess which song might be next, that’s when you know you’ve got a band that are worth their time spent at the pinnacle of music in the North. Kings of the North, says their merch, they’re not far wrong. They’re my fave, let’s do it all again next Saturday.


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