Wednesday 19 November 2014

Live Review: Courteeners, Cardiff Student Union 17/11/2014

There's no denying the Courteeners have one of the most loyal fan bases around, displayed so clearly evident up and down the country as they pack out shows - fans screaming each and every word back at Fray in such adorning fashion. It's a scene that never fails to amaze. Unless you know me in person then you'll probably have no idea how much this band mean to me. Documenting the latter years to my teenage youth in immaculate detail, Liam Fray's songwriting speaks in no way any other band could. From partying and heartbreaks to late nights and early mornings. The thing with the Courteeners is that whilst the lyrics may be a selfish visualisation of Fray's life they play too true to so many of us. St. Jude, Falcon and more recently Anna have been there through it all. Travelling around the country, hanging with the best people I know. Some of my fondest memories I have were created in the presence of this band so it's with no surprise I was over the moon when they returned so readily with Concrete Love, and with that a new tour. Marking my 15th time it was rather fitting to be back on home soil in Cardiff - even if last time here was tainted by a Swansea/Cardiff brawl. With no sign of that tonight, just Welsh fans singing in unison about shagging sheep, the atmosphere inside was as electric as ever as The Smiths 'How Soon Is Now' echoed from the system for Liam, Cuppello, Campbell and Conan's walk on. Kicking things off with White Horses it was clearly evident there was never going to be a tame moment. By the time Cavorting was teased in with its unmistakable guitar line intro the party was well and truly underway as beer became strewn across the room - thankfully no piss yet, we all know what a Courteeners show is like.

With four albums to chose from I wouldn't want to be in Liam's shoes yet fans seem to be pleased with the choices as they works their way through a broad cross section of every release thus far. With the tour predominantly in support of their newly released 'Concrete Love' LP though, it was a joy to witness the crowd sing at the top of their lungs - having only been release 3 months previous it's clear to see how much of an almost religious cult following the band have. It would seem they really can't do any wrong as Small Bones, possibly my favourite from the new album, gets a glorious live re-work as the rapturous crowd chant its intro before lightening fast guitars send stratospheric blasts of energy throughout.

Even when the show slips in to its acoustic mid section with How Good It Was EP track Sunflower getting a warm reception, the energy never drops. "You Want Smiths Disco?" smirked Liam before a huge sing-a-long ensued. I remember the days when this was a rare treat to hear live - my, how it's good to be getting it in regular occurrence now. The only dampener on the evening came with the strong presence of security. "Oi mate that torch is really fucking annoying" shouted Liam as the place erupted in to cheer after security down front attempted to get someone down off their friends shoulders. Okay, we all know there's a big love of flares and smoke bombs at Courteeners shows and getting frisked upon entering is always a bit infringing but is there really any need for the constant barging through the crowd to tell people off for having a little bit of fun?

Thankfully it doesn't dampen anyone's spirits too much as the band rejoin the stage for Next Time You Call and Here Come The Young Men. Still, nothing quite prepares for their final two-song bow out that's become an almost tradition to end on with Not Nineteen Forever creating one of the most liveliest atmosphere's Cardiff has and probably ever will see on a chilly Monday evening in November. Finally everyone's What Took You So Long? chants were answered, something that never gets old. Whether it's 20,000+ in Castlefield Bowl o r or the thousand or so fans packed in to a small room - the deafening roar of its chorus is something that truly needs to be experienced. There's a love in the air. Everyone here for the same undying love and passion for one band's unity and as Fray gives his own rendition of James' Tomorrow the saddening reality dawns on the crowd that it's time to leave.

The Courteeners continue their tour at the following dates below:
20/11/2014 - Birmingham, O2 Academy
21/11/2014 - Liverpool, Echo Arena


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