Live review: Teenage Fanclub, Barrowland, Glasgow, Tue 30 Oct
- David Pollock
- 1 November 2018
Scottish indie favourites play Grand Prix and Songs from Northern Britain on the second night of their Glasgow residency
Avid Teenage Fanclub watchers from through the years should be aware that the best-value of their three-night residency at the Barrowlands – during which they were/are playing each of their albums released during the 1990s in succession - would likely be the second night. Having already enjoyed the sublime Bandwagonesque and the long-undervalued Thirteen the previous evening, now we were to hear 1995's Grand Prix and 1997's Songs from Northern Britain; their most commercially successful albums from the period, and the most concentrated period of well-loved Fannies songs.
Proceedings were a bit more reserved in the absence of original drummer and perennial joker Brendan O'Hare – 'he couldn't make it tonight, he ran out of the venue last night wearing a red cloak,' joked Norman Blake – although O'Hare did turn up later for some percussive assistance. Paul Quinn was on drums throughout, with the night getting off to a breezily heart-warming start amid the crystal-clear pop harmonies of 'About You', 'Sparky's Dream' and 'Mellow Doubt'.
'This is the album we started using capos on,' joked Norman, fiddling with his guitar before 'Don't Look Back', and then the hesitant, uncertain 'Versimilitude', the sonic recovery of 'Neil Jung' and the tender, piano-led 'Tears' wrapped up the side of music which offered possibly the purest distillation of what Teenage Fanclub came to be known for as a band – great pop hooks, a sense of nostalgia made new, and an innocent romantic heart which may have been tarnished but never allowed itself to be broken.
The second side of Grand Prix isn't as well-remembered for signature songs, but the potency of the album as a whole carried it through, from the driving, open-road AM rock of 'Discolite' to the punkish vignette of a closer 'Hardcore/Ballad'. After the break, evidence of this pair of records' quality when played together was delivered with the realisation that Songs from Northern Britain is a perfect re-run of Grand Prix; a handful of hits, including the band's biggest, 'Ain't That Enough', and a strong selection of album tracks which pull the record together and demonstrate enough playfulness and variety to keep things interesting.
Here, 'Start Again' and 'I Don't Want Control of You' were the hits everyone knew, 'I Need Direction' was one of the surprise packages in its spiky, almost aggressive resemblance to Sonic Youth, and Raymond McGinley's mellow, nocturnal 'Your Love is the Place Where I Come From' – with Blake earning cheers for his xylophone solos – was the track which appeared to enjoy the most renewed appreciation. As Blake read out birthday dedications for fans in attendance from Japan and Boston, it was apparent that this novel quest to revisit the band's past in forensic detail had been a much-appreciated success, at least over the first two evenings. Although there are few others with the depth and quality of music to do it quite like Teenage Fanclub.
Teenage Fanclub, touring.