Updated: Feb 5
Having performed at Reading and Leeds Festival, along with a few other events this summer, the Courteeners announced that they would be travelling across Arena’s across the UK for yet another of their incredible UK Headline tours. Having seen the band a number of times myself after the initial excitement, I was also intrigued to see how they would adapt to Arena style venues, so was fortunate to be invited along to the Metro Radio Arena when the band recently visited the North East.
If you have been to a Courteeners show in the past, you will agree with me that, it is anything but boring, made even more unique by their colourful and equally passionate fans. If Carlsberg made concerts – it would be The Courteeners haha!
Starting the evening, first on stage was support artist ZuZu from Liverpool. I would say although not necessarily the in the same genre as the Courteeners, nevertheless is quite edgy and cool as an artist. It was an opportunity for all us fans to discover her music, with the likes of her latest release Dark Blue which has quite a refreshing and catchy vibe which I noticed had a few heads bopping. Given this is generally a hardcore audience, in terms of “We Want Courteeners and nothing else” mentally that I have seen at some shows in the past, ZuZu didn’t let this phase her, as she held her own and brought the energy. Pretty certain her music connected to some new fans who watching. Furthermore given that Liam Fray had requested ZuZu join the band on tour, having seen the potential in her, then that alone makes you realise hey there is a good vibe about this talented lady.
Next up on stage we had singer song writer Gerry Cinnamon. I will be honest, personally I had very little idea who he was, however it is like someone pressed a switch because even before he had come on, there was this wave of excitement through the Metro Radio Arena. People were even chanting his name, but not any ol chant, instead to the beat to chorus of KC & The Sunshine Band’s Give It Up Track. But instead of singining Give it Up they replaced it with his name. For example “Na, Na, Na, Na Gerry Cinnamon, Gerry Cinnamon, Gerry Cinnamon”…. Haha I kid you not once you hear it and start singing it, it will be stuck in your mind forever haha.
Anyway back to Gerry and his set. As this down to earth but fun loving chap entered the room, he gave 110% and had the majority of the crowd singing along and dancing to tracks such as Belter and Sometimes. I may not known the words, but it wasn’t long till I was joining in too. Am pretty sure the couple sat next to me, made sure I was on my feet dancing too haha, and you know what I am pretty glad I did too because it really helped me to embrace Gerry Cinnamon’s set and by the end left me thinking, damnnn I need to find out more about this guy.
As support artists go, Gerry Cinnanom and ZuZu too for that matter, certainly brought their A Game and started tonight’s proceedings in style. By the time it was the turn of our hosts, The Courteeners the energy and adrenaline in the room had increased tenfold. True to tradition, you also had a couple of people in the crowd try to light up some flares. Ok not the wisest of things to do in a venue but a testimony of the lengths some Courteeners fans will go to, to celebrate ate their favourite band coming to their city. That is what I love about live music, because the unexpected moments make the night that even more special.
The band opened the night with Are You Falling In Love With A Notion and kept the energy going with Cavorting and Acrylic too. I haven’t said it much this year, but literally the whole crowd was bouncing with everyone singing with their heart and soul. What I really loved about this set as it continued was in terms of songs, there was a nice selection of choices from the albums that they have released over the years which go back as far as 2008. It felt very much like a “Best Of” kind of vibe but with all the adrenaline, vibrancy and comradery that you would expect from any Courteener’s live show. You had people sitting on their friends shoulders as well, started with a few people here and there, but didn’t take long for other people to join in.
To tone things down for a moment, with his band mates leaving the stage, we were left with front man Liam Fray as he stripped things back for 2 or 3 acoustic songs, a true chance to really focus on his skills as a song writer. This included ‘Please Don’t’ , ‘Hanging Off The Cloud’ and ‘Smiths Disco’. As much as I enjoy the constant energy at a show, I also look forward to these like this as it helps you to truly reflect on what it is about Liam Fray and The Courteeners which make them such a highly valued and loved British band.
Having given us 14 songs worth of pure fun and joy, Liam left the stage as it was sadly the moment in the night where it was time to wind things up and go home – yea I hear you, it does suck doesn’t it?. HOWEVER if there is one thing you should know about the Courteeners, when you chant the words “We Want More, We Want More”, they will sure as hell make sure they do not leave you disappointed. After a quick check by the stage crew, the band were back on in true style with a final encore – making sure to save their best for last.
If there is one track which made me really light up with joy, like hundreds of other fans was hearing one of my absolute favourites and probably an iconic Courteeners song, Not Nineteen Forever. Ok you can listen to it on your phone or dance to it when your out on a Friday or Saturday night at your local watering hole, which is perfectly fine. When you have the band in front of you though singing your faves like wow, that kind of good shit blows your mind!
The night ended on a high as they closed the show with What Took You So Long, which had every single member of the audience giving it there all. Usually encores are the moments when some people leave early, but no no this is The Courteeners – we stand united to the end!
I am soooo happy I got the chance to attend the Arena tour as it was a night which will always be up there of my top shows of 2018. This will probably be my 4th time seeing them live, and each time it is such a honour to be part of their journey and see them go from strength to strength. Wishing the band all the best for the months ahead, be sure ya’ll return realllllll soon!
Article By Thushara