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The Courteneers / November 2016 UK Tour

By on Wednesday, 7th September 2016 at 8:00 am

Liam Fray and the Courteneers like to do things big. The Manchester band favourites’ latest tour announcement proves this extends to their travel plans around the UK, which includes 12 stops. (Oddly, Manchester has been omitted from the tour. Christmas hometown show, perhaps?) They’ll be supporting upcoming fifth album ‘Mapping the Rendezvous’, which is slated for release on the 21st of October on PIAS. Tickets are on sale now for all the dates below. For more on Courteeners on TGTF, click here.

Thursday 10th November 2016 – Stoke on Trent Victoria Hall
Friday 11th November 2016 – Southampton Guildhall
Saturday 12th November 2016 – London Brixton Academy
Monday 14th November 2016 – Bristol Academy
Tuesday 15th November 2016 – Norwich UEA
Thursday 17th November 2016 – Birmingham Academy
Friday 18th November 2016 – Liverpool Echo
Saturday 19th November 2016 – Glasgow SSE
Monday 21st November 2016 – Newcastle Academy
Tuesday 22nd November 2016 – Nottingham Rock City
Thursday 24th November 2016 – Carlisle Sands Centre
Friday 25th November 2016 – Leeds First Direct Arena


Reading 2016: Saturday Roundup

By on Wednesday, 31st August 2016 at 2:00 pm

Following on from the complete success that was Friday at Reading 2016 – and with Foals‘ pinnacle career moment headlining the main stage – Saturday had a lot to live up to. Headlining solo today were the funk giants and great dividers of opinion, Red Hot Chili Peppers, but first we had a whole day to experience.

The weather had a go at trying to dampen the spirits by giving a mid-morning downpour, but as with all UK festivals, this only fuelled the festival-going crowd’s insatiable lust for a good time. First up were Scottish three-piece Fatherson. Clearly a milestone for the band, they delivered their emotive and euphoric set with complete expert execution. It shouldn’t be too long before they climb their way through the stages and find themselves front and centre.

The Beach, a London-based singer/songwriter recently on tour with Tom Odell, brought his band for a full ensemble run through of his thoughtful and encompassing tunes. This was an easy watch that the calm crowd relished in. Over on the main stage, American hard rockers Clutch may not have had the largest crowd for the location, but they certainly didn’t let this stop them from giving a set that was filled with solos, riffs and just about every other rock staple you need. Shout out to drummer Jean-Paul Gaster for his 9:30 Club t-shirt (Washington represent!)

Continuing the heavy streak on the main stage, Skindred gave a thoroughly vicious performance with their blend of rock, reggae and metal. The crowd, after witnessing Clutch, were more than up for a good time with heavier influences. Which was good considering what was to come across the field.

The Pit was the place to be for most of the afternoon. Like most festivals, secret sets are always a guarantee, and Reading was no different. With a gap on the stage at 4 PM labelled as ‘TBC’, a spraypainted You Me At Six poster and a band photo backstage, the most subtle of secrets was suddenly revealed. But this was not before what could probably have been one of the best sets of the festival by Heck, a musical marvel who completely dominated the stage, the crowd and everything in between. Spending the majority of the set in various states in and on the crowd, including guitarist and singer Jonny Hall sat atop a flight case while playing guitar, it was an absolutely animalistic and wild sight to behold, Heck should not skip anyone’s radar, not they’d let that happen in any case. Back to the You Me At Six secret set, the closer the time came to 4 PM, the further the tent filled out. By the time the band took to the stage through a curtain of fog, the tent was a gravitational centre. With the band having just announced a large tour of the UK, it was a close and exciting glimpse into what was to hit our cities early next year.

On the main stage, Kent breakthrough punk duo Slaves, proved that they’d earned their way on to central billing by ferociously powering through their socially relevant songs. Another historic moment for a British band at a staple festival.

Back at The Pit and following on from Reading 2016’s worst kept secret came Milk Teeth. The Gloucestershire-based band showed exactly why they’re one of the UK’s brightest up-and-comers. With songs filled with personality and a ’90s rock feel, the crowd were as immersed in the music as the band playing them. It’s sets such as theirs that give Reading its best draw and atmosphere: small bands finding their audience, laying the groundwork for a return in the future to ever larger crowds.

One of the UK festival exclusives this year, Eagles of Death Metal have been present in the public eye for many reasons over the last year, both positive and negative. All of that didn’t matter today though as they joked, sang, laughed and rocked through a main stage set that will surely eclipse what has gone before. Leading man Jesse Hughes knows exactly how to engage and entertain his audience, be it dedicating ‘Zipper Down’ cut ‘Silverlake’ to a fan-made golden cape that he wore atop a Red Hot Chili Peppers shirt, or introducing us all to his father who was side of stage and beginning a chant of “dad! dad! dad!”, he’s an expert at his craft. Ending with ‘Save a Prayer’ who he dedicated to England because “when we needed you, you did not let us down”, likely a reference to the Bataclan terror attack in Paris last November.

While this riotous party was going down, newcomers VANT had the Festival Republic tent filled with young minds that they’re hoping to reach with their politically charged songs. Judging by the reception they were given during single ‘The Answer’ that references Afghanistan and UK/U.S. relations, their plan is working.

Mancunians The Courteeners burst onto the main stage taking over from where Eagles of Death Metal left off. Theirs was a rousing, anthemic set, perfect to carry the afternoon through to ready for the evening’s festivities. Imagine Dragons were the warm-up for Red Hot Chili Peppers, and by the term warm up, they certainly did. With crowd pleasers such as ‘Radioactive’ and ‘Demons’ and their larger than life sound, there was no way they could fail.

Finally, it was the turn of the big guns, Red Hot Chili Peppers. A band who simply need no introduction, over 3 decades of funk and rock, they proved at Reading they’re here to keep the reigning crown. Taking to the stage at 9:30, the incomparable Red Hot Chili Peppers were as welcomed as they would’ve been at any point in their career, with a hungry crowd and rapturous applause. Kicking straight in with ‘Can’t Stop’, it was clear they were here to only prove this point. Though the set could have felt a touch more exciting, it was a solid performance that certainly cemented Kiedis and co.’s place at top billing. Hits aplenty, from a full crowd sing along to ‘Under the Bridge’ to an encore ending with ‘Give It Away’. Saturday night closed out with the feeling of an impenetrable force proved by the enthusiastic crowd, who had grown to almost the entire festival capacity and sought any means possible to get a view. If Saturday was anything to go by, it proved Reading and Leeds is a festival that not only secures the legends but can also breed them.


The Courteeners / November and December 2015 UK Tour

By on Monday, 24th August 2015 at 8:30 am

Manchester indie pop heroes The Courteeners have announced a massive autumn tour of the UK. The series of dates concludes at home for the band with a record-breaking five back-to-back dates at the venerated Manchester Apollo between the 8th and the 12th of December. Tickets for the gigs in November and December go on sale this Wednesday, the 26th of August, at 9 AM. In case you have any doubt, I’d recommend you snap up tickets to this tour ASAP, as I’m sure these dates will sell out quickly.

Past coverage of Liam Fray and The Courteeners on TGTF, including my review of their 2014 album ‘Concrete Love’, is here.

Thursday 26th November 2015 – Stoke Victoria Hall
Friday 27th November 2015 – Lincoln Engine Shed
Sunday 29th November 2015 – Glasgow Academy
Monday 30th November 2015 – Newcastle Academy
Tuesday 1st December 2015 – Leicester Academy
Thursday 3rd December 2015 – Wolverhampton Wulfrun Hall
Friday 4th December 2015 – London Shepherd’s Bush Empire
Tuesday 8th December 2015 – Manchester Apollo
Wednesday 9th December 2015 – Manchester Apollo
Thursday 10th December 2015 – Manchester Apollo
Friday 11th December 2015 – Manchester Apollo
Saturday 12th December 2015 – Manchester Apollo


Album Review: The Courteeners – Concrete Love

By on Tuesday, 12th August 2014 at 12:00 pm

At the end of 2013, Liam Fray revealed there was uncertainty about the Courteeners’ future, or at least doubt on when the Manchester indie rock/pop band would be appearing next at a venue near you. Speaking to Gigwise after a hometown arena show last December, Fray suggested it could be a year or more before they made another live appearance, stressing a “need to go away and decide which ones work best, what we like and reassess really for the next ‘phase’”. Clearly, these qualms didn’t last all that long; songwriting and recording for the group’s fourth album ‘Concrete Love’, to be released next Monday, must have surely commenced soon after.

The first taste of the new album appeared back in June. ‘Summer’ is an unabashed attempt at a summer smash, replete with a bouncy rhythm and feel good guitar strumming that puts you in an island state of mind. When the chorus comes in, there’s an echo effect placed on both the guitars and Fray’s voice that makes ‘Not Nineteen Forever’ and ‘You Overdid It Doll’ days of yore seem like a distance memory. For sure, the song has charm at this time of year, but are we really going to be listening to it when the leaves have fallen and winter has taken hold? Doubtful. Still, one could argue that if they’re going for single sales, it was a well-timed effort.


Funnily enough, it was Fray himself who said in that aforementioned Gigwise interview, “I definitely think that labels and producers whatever are putting all their eggs in one basket for two or three tracks. Whereas, I think it has to be about everything really, you have to try and make every song as big”. Maybe this is where they got ‘Concrete Love’ wrong? Each of these 11 tunes on the LP has elements that could be deemed ‘big’, but few have staying power. The collection also suffers from a lack of cohesiveness, as well as an ill-conceived song order.

In stark contrast to the sunniness of ‘Summer’, the album begins with ‘White Horses’ (seriously, what is up with rock stars and their preoccupation with equines?), which is dark, loud and bombastic, as if the Courteeners are trying to shed their pop image. It’s an emphatic beginning but some momentum and mood is lost as it’s directly followed by their current single ‘How Good It Was’. This sees the band embracing the pop/rock sound they’re most popular for, which isn’t a bad thing at all. It’s not as catchy as ‘Are You in Love with a Notion?’ from last year’s album ‘Anna’, it’s memorable, but if you’re sat listening to this album start to finish, it can feel like an uncomfortable segue.


Nearly halfway through the LP is ‘Black and Blue’: with its frenetic rhythm and Fray’s sometimes menacing cadences, it would have felt more appropriate on an EP with the similar ‘White Horses’ and can be regarded as a natural progression from 2012 single ‘Lose Control’. ‘Saboteur’ is this release’s ‘You Overdid It Doll’ moment, with funk, synths and squeals of guitar. Then there is ‘Next Time You Call’ – with a riff that appears to have been stolen from Elbow’s ‘Grounds for Divorce’ – has Northern swagger, something that there is sadly too little of on this album.

Most of the album’s pace slows to a near halt due to the balladry, in the form of ‘Small Bones’, ‘Has He Told You He Loves You Yet’, and ‘International’, and later on to close out the album with ‘Dreamers’ and ‘Beautiful Head’. These songs aren’t bad, but there isn’t much there to hold your attention for long. Fray’s vocals introducing ‘Small Bones’ are admirable in their sincerity, but the horn section that comes in soon after him seems heavy-handed and breaks the reverie. ‘International’ and ‘Beautiful Head’ have percussive bluster and piano so Coldplay-esque, it’s almost painful. As a result, the album feels schizophrenic: at their shows, are you supposed to jump up and down with abandon, or are you supposed to stand there static or perhaps gently swaying in place with your LED wristband? We’ll have to see how the new material fares at Reading and Leeds.


The Courteeners’ fourth album ‘Concrete Love’ will be out next Monday, the 18th of August, on Polydor Records. Visit the band’s Web site for more information on how to order signed copies of CDs; deluxe CDs including the ‘Live at Castlefield Bowl DVD, filmed in July 2013 in Manchester; and the album on limited edition white vinyl.


Video of the Moment #1381: The Courteeners

By on Thursday, 14th November 2013 at 6:00 pm

‘Are You in Love with a Notion?’ by the Courteeners is one of my favourite tracks of 2013, hands down. (I wrote about the single, if you’d like to read about it here.) Well, my cup runneth over now. The plot of the promo video for the single, to be released on the 9th of December on Polydor, is sheer perfection; I couldn’t have written a better storyline that fits Liam Fray’s lyrics better. Watch it below.



Single Review: The Courteeners – Are You in Love with a Notion?

By on Tuesday, 5th November 2013 at 12:00 pm

Funny how this single from The Courteeners comes along just shortly after Keane announced they had decided to go on hiatus. ‘Are You in Love with a Notion?’, the opening track of the Manchester band’s third album ‘Anna’ released in February, will be released as a single in its own right in December on Polydor. Surely, the Courteeners’ fan faithful have already committed this song to memory, having bought the album and seen the band on tour or at festivals this year. But even if you don’t have Liam Fray’s poster on your bedroom wall, it’s a tune worth your attention, and I’ll tell you why.

I mentioned Keane in the previous paragraph because the anthemic piano banging that takes place in ‘Are You in Love with a Notion?’ has been compared by others to Doves but I find it more like Tim Rice-Oxley in its key scratching, in terms of more recent memory. The subject matter isn’t new: a man is clearly bemoaning that a woman’s choice – or maybe desire is the better word? – to settle for a man who might not be the right one for her. It’s not spelled out, but the suggestion the protagonist is a far better choice is hiding in here. Another theme is that of running away and escaping to a better life; perhaps that’s where NME was going when they were comparing this song to Doves and therefore our namesake ‘There Goes the Fear’? One could argue the “notion” in the song could be marriage, or love itself; for the purpose of this discussion, it doesn’t matter. The girl wants to “quit Debenhams” and leave her shop girl existence to “elope and get married in the sun”, and she’s already gleefully informed her girlfriends “that all your [her] dreams were made”. Do I know girls like this? Yes. More importantly, do you know girls like this?

Along with its feel good chorus perfect for a singalong, this would have been enough for a radio hit. However, Fray has some interesting word choices, elevating this song from usual Radio 1 fodder. “You linger on a feeling / that you can’t quite put your finger on / reminiscent of a summer in the Isle of Wight” – our protagonist insists the feeling is fleeting and isn’t sufficient to tie down the girl, even if she thinks “it’s too late / to back out at this stage”. Later on, Fray quips, “but then your home screen flashed some more / he was never one for serenade”: ‘the one’ in question uses texting to romance his lady love. Not exactly Shakespeare, is it? But it drives home the point of the song: don’t settle.


The next single from the Courteeners, ‘Are You in Love with a Notion?’, will be released on the 9th of December on Polydor. They will be on tour in the UK in December.


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There Goes The Fear is where we tell you about the latest music, gigs, and tours we love and think you should too.

We love music that has its heart on its sleeve, tells a story, swims around our head all day or makes us dance like no-one's watching.

TGTF was edited by Mary Chang, based in Washington, DC.

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