The Courteeners have yet to fully crack the rest of the UK, but their fourth show of seven sold out dates in Manchester shows they definitely know how to please their hometown crowd.
A full to capacity O2 Apollo welcome home the four-piece, who enter to Oasis’ ‘What’s the Story Morning Glory’, before jumping straight into ‘Are You In Love With A Notion?’. The breathless start continues, with fan favourites ‘Cavorting’, ‘Acrylic’ and ‘How Good it Was’.
By this stage, the energetic crowd have barely stopped jumping, so slower offerings of ‘Please Don’t’, new Christmas single ‘Winter Wonderland’ and ‘Take Over The World’ are welcome opportunities to catch a breath. If a rousing sing-a-long of ‘Bide Your Time’ isn’t enough to please the devoted audience, then covering Oasis classic ‘Champagne Supernova’ certainly does just that.
Frontman Liam Fray naturally controls the pace of the set, and tells his crowd of his own previous visits to the Apollo to see Oasis, the Smiths, and the Stone Roses. The Courteeners aren’t on the same level as these Manchester icons, but their passionate hometown following still appreciate every second of the 90-minute performance.
The only way the band might have pleased their fans more, would be to play more songs. Notable hits that were missing included ‘Van Der Graff’, ‘The Opener’ and ‘Welcome To The Rave’. These may have been better received than songs such as ‘Lose Control’ or ‘You Overdid It Doll’, but this is picking holes that weren’t there.
Fray showcases his songwriting talents throughout the night, but they are particularly evident during the acoustic interlude of ‘Hometown One’, ‘No You Didn’t, No You Don’t’, and ‘Smith’s Disco’. Again, this is an opportunity to refresh, before a finale that leaves Manchester simply wanting more.
‘Here Come the Young Men’ and ‘Beautiful Head’ would have been enough to send the 3500-crowd home happy, but the band – complete with a stand-in bassist, after long-term member Mark Cuppello left days before their Apollo stint – still have more to offer. The crowd have been waiting for finale hits ‘Not Nineteen Forever’ and ‘What Took You So Long’, and they are not disappointed when they arrive. Flares light up the sea of young and old Mancunians, who would go on all night if given the chance.
Fray sums up the night perfectly while praising groups of friends, who are too pre-occupied with having a good time to face the stage. The Courteeners might have a long way to go to emulate Manchester’s greats, or even to be adored outside the city as much as they are inside it. But the band don’t seem to mind, as long as they can play to friends and fans who enjoy their music and have a good night. As for tonight, the Courteeners undoubtedly achieved those aims.
This review is also available on Forge Press: Live Review: The Courteeners – 11/12/15