The Courteeners Kentish Town Forum | 3rd March 2016
The Courteeners – What Took You So Long?
It was back in December when the Shepherds Bush Empire in London announced it had to close its doors for urgent renovation works as they had found a structural fault. The Courteeners were due to play the venue that night and the message was so late that some fans turned up to the venue having travelled far and wide for this landmark gig. The air turned blue on social media and Liam himself made a statement to say how sorry they were, but they had no option to postpone to a later date. That date turned out to be March 3rd 2016 and a long wait for many fans, so you can imagine there is a tense and eager sense of anticipation, fuelled with alcohol I can hear the football chants from Kentish Town Station as I make my way up to the Forum.
Inside it’s turning into a terrace singing contest with added beer literally thrown in, and even the security are looking a little worried, and can’t understand why they would throw £5 pints of beer away! This is half an hour before The Courteeners take to the stage, with their now usual Oasis ‘Morning Glory’ entrance music, Liam Fray and co walk out to complete adulation, a sight which takes them all aback, Fray quite clearly apologetic for the cancellation, and the lengthy wait for a new gig.
They launch into “Are You In Love With A Notion” and quickly follow with ‘Cavorting’ and ‘Acrylic’ following the same setlist from the 2015 December shows. Most of the beer now spilt including one down my right shoulder – thanks! It’s time for Liam to joke about checking to see if the building is safe, and to give a big apology to everyone that travelled, not his usual gregarious banter, but it was heartfelt – gaining him even more admiration from his loyal following.
It felt like every song they played was a classic, with all the accompanying voices knowing every single lyric, from front of house to the back they were joining in, arms aloft, beer or empty plastic glass in hand.
Mid set we get the Liam solo acoustic spot and a version of ‘Smiths Disco’ together with a new one which finishes abruptly as that’s all he’s written so far! The band now comfortable to pace the set with slower introspective tunes in-between the likes of ‘You Overdid It Doll’.
This is a band that are prepared to play the opening to Oasis ‘Champagne Supernova’, the “Shoop-de-lang chorus” of Libertines ‘What Katy Did’, and part of ‘Tomorrow’ by James at the start or in-between their own songs. It’s time they were revered in the same light as their peers, and whilst the Gallagher brothers have yet to patch up their differences, why shouldn’t there be a new favourite indie rock band from Manchester to take their place, they have played in their shadows for too long. Overlooked by the mass music media, largely unplayed on the BBC, and yet even without that they can still notch up top 5 selling albums, its clear that the masses are having their say, and they want The Courteeners.
A rousing version of their homeless charity single ‘Winter Wonderland’ filled the place and ‘Not Nineteen Forever’ blew the roof off, so it’s probably just as well they didn’t play Shepherds Bush Empire. Fray acknowledging that this gig really marks the end of the last tour, and they are planning to take some well earned time out to write some new songs, before they come back – no rest for the wicked it seems.
Ending predictably with ‘What Took You So Long’ it’s “woah oh oh” chorus was still being sung down the stairs and out of the building, and throughout the 5-minute walk back to the tube station.
Tonight was a massive victory for honest Northern roots indie rock music, played by a band who love doing what they are doing, and to an audience that treasured every minute of it, even if they had to wait nearly 3 months to be there.