Courteeners are one of a few bands from the last great musical scene the 00’s to still be around without having split up and making a grand return at some point, to celebrate 15 years since their first full band gig at the Roadhouse in Manchester, the band decided to go on an intimate venue tour called ‘The Whites Of Their Eyes Tour’.
Frontman Liam Fray said that the tour was named that because he wanted to see the whites of the fans eyes again, also the band have a tune that is a B-side to ‘You Overdid It Doll’ called ‘Whites Of Her Eyes’.
Courteeners dipped into the Baths Hall in Scunthorpe in what was the hottest ticket in Town, the boozers beforehand were buzzing in anticipation for the gig with most people talking about what was to come and a lot of others asking if people had spare tickets, the tour sold-out instantly so most missed fans out but if you wanted in, you could have easily bought a ticket in the boozers or outside, there seemed to be a lot of spares changing hands.
The lights went down and ‘Morning Glory’ by Oasis started playing, the mosh pit booted off without the band even being on stage yet, the helicopter intro getting everybody buzzing instantly. The band started with ‘Heart Attack’, Courteeners have a habit of starting with the opening track on their latest album. The tune has an element of ‘My Sharona’, once you make that connection you can’t unhear that… Sorry if that’s ruined it for you, the tune is a certified banger though and a worthy opener. Oddly, ‘Take It On The Chin’ came next before almost every fan’s favourite opener ‘Are You In Love With A Notion?’, this was the moment the gig felt like it had really started with the first two feeling more like they were road testing the tunes.
‘Cavorting’ followed and kept the crowd bouncing and singing with arms flying about, a nice induction to the set was ‘Cross My Heart And Hope To Fly’, the band seem to ignore a lot of tunes off their second album ‘Falcon’ even though 50% of the fan’s rate this album higher than ‘St Jude’ so for this to be back in the setlist was a great touch, not to mention the amount of two fingers flicked in Liam’s direction when he sang “Fuck right off into the middle of the sky.” Unfortunately, ‘Sycophant’, also from ‘Falcon’ was dropped from the set after the band played this at the start of the tour, also ‘Bide Your Time’ was also booted the curbside.
One thing Courteeners are brilliant at is bringing the ladettes out in the girls during the ‘lad’ tunes and also bringing the softer side out in the geezers during their more heartfelt tunes, ‘Small Bones’ is one of the foundations of the band’s live shows which manages to blend the two together, a beautiful song which escalates into a bouncy, joyous tune with a beautiful sing-a-long section “I’ve seen you in my dreams honey, I’ve watched you in my sleep, we were drinking bars darling, dancing down the street.” It’s hard not to jump on somebody’s shoulders belting this back to the band without tears in your eyes.
‘The 17th’ saw the band finish the first section of the set. The track has become a big favourite among the fans and it’s easy to see why with the teasing tense build-up, bubbling along to the perfect bouncing beat, it always feels like it’s about to explode before slowing down again, but the wait is worth it when around 4 minutes in the explosion comes with an almost old school rave feel, sounds famliar to Grace‘s ‘Not Over Yet’. “We’re Having Such A Good Time, we’re having such a good time.“
The first encore was a Liam Fray acoustic solo set of three songs one of which was an un-released track named ‘Average Marriage’, Liam Fray premiered this song on his Instagram, just him, some keys and sitting in his bedroom. This has the hallmarks of being one of them acoustic tracks that could stay in the setlist for a while. ‘Please Don’t and ‘Smiths Disco’ ended the acoustic part.
The final encore included two tracks from the their latest album, ‘Hanging Off Your Cloud’ is another love tune which is in a similar vein to ‘Small Bones’, a definite song for the lovers. Also the optimistic ‘One Day At A Time’, this makes you think about the importance of not worrying so much as it just winds you up even more, the lyrics are simple but powerful and saw fans waving their fists in the air whilst singing them back, “Stop shaking your fist at the sky, It’s only you that’s making you cry, Start chasing the dreams you deny, Take it slow, one day at a time.“
Boasting an arsenal of two huge set closing tunes, most bands would make the hard decision of which one to play and which one to bin, but why not play both and finish in style? Well that’s what Courteeners did, ‘Not Nineteen Forever’ came first and created the biggest mosh of the night. The mayhem didn’t slow down with ‘What Took You So Long?’, giving time for a breather with a slowed-down version of ‘Tomorrow’ by James mixed in with the tune. After the band had walked off stage to a massive round of applause and cheering, the fans carried on singing the ‘Whoa whoa’ parts when exiting the venue.
Liam Fray and the lads seemed to enjoy the closeness of a smaller crowd and likewise the fans, it was nice to be up close to the band too, it maybe a long time till Courteenes play these size venues again and that was relished on the night.
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