Teenage Fanclub


With the gig sold out in a matter of minutes, it’s clear that people have waited years to see two of Teenage Fanclub’s best albums played in their entirety. Having been around for over twenty-five years, this is also the last chance to see the original three singers, as vocalist and bassist Gerrard Love has said he’s leaving after this tour (he’s a bit fed up with overseas trips and wants a quieter life apparently). So expectations are at fever pitch by the time the affable bunch of Scots take to the stage in a packed out Academy 3.

Frontman and guitarist Norman Blake explains the proceedings for tonight’s gig – the whole of 1991’s Bandwagonesque then a little interval, before playing the whole of 1993’s Thirteen – and with that we’re into the opening chords and immortal lines of Bandwagonesque’s opener, ‘The Concept’, as the whole crowd join Blake in singing, “She wears denim wherever she goes, says she’s gonna get some records by the Status Quo,” as the song kicks into life and an ecstatic Academy 3 audience sings along to the whole verse, arms aloft.

As is the way with these sort of album gigs, you know what’s up next, but in a way that only adds to the anticipation, so after the brief fuzz pedal blast of an instrumental that is ‘Satan’, bassist Love takes over on vocal duties for the hugely anthemic ‘December’. Having signed to Creation Records in the early 90s, they were one of the leading indie bands of that era, with melodies and harmonies to rival The Beach Boys or The Byrds, mixed with a hefty dose of jangly guitars and heavy duty distortion for an almighty punch of indie it was hard not to fall in love with.

The glorious vocal harmonies between Love, Blake and guitarist/vocalist Raymond McGinley resume for the guitar stomping sounds of ‘What You Do To Me’, ‘I Don’t Know’ and ‘Starsign’. In a perfect world these songs would have all been huge, but still with the crowd singing along to every word, it’s clear they’re still loved by a devoted following. There’s a lot of joking along with the audience as the band attempt to remember which song comes next, before launching into the brilliantly meandering guitar epic that is ‘Alcoholiday’, then with the gentle lullaby of ‘Guiding Star’ and the instrumental finale of ‘Is This Music’, it’s interval time.

In a weird way, intervals at gigs seem to work – you can pop to the loo, get drinks, all without missing anything. It does feel slightly alien and civilised for the Academy 3 though, so it’s a relief when normal activity is resumed and the band come back on and launch into Thirteen, with its slightly heavier guitars, drummer Francis MacDonald pausing in between songs especially after the frenetic beats of classic jingle ‘Radio’, joking about how drumming gets harder over the years, as he has a rest, arms outstretched resting on the cymbals trying to cool those (possibly sweaty) armpits down!

The huge melodies continue with the beautiful ‘Tears Are Cool’ and the gigantic closer, and homage to The Byrds guitarist, ‘Gene Clark’, with its wailing guitar riffs more reminiscent of Neil Young than the blissful psychedelic pop of the 60s legends. Although these songs were released decades ago, they have a timeless quality to them, with all band members joking around, possessing the kind of down to earth attitude which only friends who’ve been around for that length of time could have. They may have blasted out of the hazy 90s indie scene but with songs of this magnitude, they’ve rightly earned their place as indie legends- a tag they’d probably hate! Whatever the future now holds for “The Fannies” (nope, I’ve never liked that nickname for them either, but what can you do?), here’s hoping they continue their quest for indie-guitar-pop perfection for many years to come. A nostalgic triumph of a gig!

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From the early days of creating handmade zines, in a DIY paper and glue style, interviewing bands around town, then pestering Piccadilly Records to sell them, to writing for various independent mags such as Chimp and Ablaze, writing about the music I love is still a great passion. After testing the music industry waters in London with stints at various labels, being back in my hometown again, writing about this city’s vibrant music scene is as exciting as ever. All time favourite bands include Sonic Youth, Nick Cave, Patti Smith although anything from electro to folk via blues and pysch rock will also do nicely too. A great album, is simply a great album, regardless of whatever musical cage you put it in.