Over the years, Teenage Fanclub have surfed various indie trends – including the likes of shoegaze and Britpop – while always managing to retain their own unique identity. Tonight, they have come to perform a career-spanning set from their Sonic Youth-inflected early days to their more poppy present to a packed Leith Theatre crowd.
After jumping straight in with a rendition of Start Again, co-vocalist and guitarist Norman Blake introduces the band and explains regular bassist Dave McGowan can’t be there tonight (as he is about to be a dad). In his stead, there is Steve Black, who despite looking like a deer in the headlights does not let his visible nerves detract from his playing – possibly helped by the small group of very vocal supporters in the front.
While the band is pretty solid from the offset, it does feel like it takes a few songs for the set to properly kick into gear. The two new numbers early on are met with a merely congenial response; not because they’re are bad – in fact, they are perfectly pleasant – but rather because they don’t stand up to the band’s best. This becomes clear when they follow their latest tracks with Alcoholiday from their iconic album Bandwagonesque.
From this point on, you can feel the band building up momentum. There is also some decent bantering with the audience from Blake. A particular highlight of this is a moment of self-deprecating dark humour when he tells the audience they are now at the age where if anyone is late on tour they wonder if the said member has ‘Gene Pitneyed’ (Pitney famously died in his hotel room while on tour).
On the downside, there is the odd number throughout the set where the band’s sound seems a little muffled. More a technical issue rather than the band’s fault, the partisan crowd don’t seem to notice as they get more enthusiastic with each song played.
The home-stretch of the set is glorious, especially during songs like It’s a Bad World, when co-vocalist/guitarist Raymond McGinley properly let’s rip on the guitar. The band also smash it with their closing number, The Concept, which is met with a euphoric response: a response so good you wonder if they can follow it in the encore.
Somehow they do, coming back with Broken to which the whole crowd sings along. A cover of Neil Young’s Don’t Cry No Tears leads into them finishing where it all began with Everything Flows – their first single from their debut record, which goes down a storm.
Minor grumbles aside, the night offers an excellent set from one of Scotland’s most iconic indie acts.