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A Magazine for Sheffield
Live / stage review

Enjoy the ride: Teenage Fanclub at Leadmill

One of rock’s great institutions have settled into a warm longevity – but in doing so find new nuances in old classics.

12 November 2023 at
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Tom Roper.

If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. While Teenage Fanclub’s sound has mellowed slightly since their time as peers of Nirvana and Sonic Youth, they’ve remained committed to their key principles of chiming guitar riffs, jangling chords and three-part vocal harmonies. Having perfected their own brand of powerpop, in some ways they’ve become rock’s ultimate comfort blanket.

As if to emphasise the bands 34th year of existence, tonight's show at The Leadmill is a seated affair. Gone are the days of mosh pits and long hair – nowadays it’s more cashmere sweaters and sensible trousers. Being seated allows for a greater appreciation of the nuance and subtlety contained in their music. With a setlist spanning their career including a good dose of tracks from their newest record Nothing Lasts Forever, the relationship between the six-piece band is a joy to watch.

As always, the rich interplay between Norman Blake and Raymond McGinley’s guitars take centre stage. They shine on fan favourites like ‘About You’ and ‘I Don't Want Control Of You’, effortlessly combining to create the rich and warm sound that has come to define them. It’s on the newer songs where the six-piece really come into their own. Saxophone provided by Sweet Baboo (also tonight’s support act) and synth and organ from newest member Euros Childs add a lushness and psychedelic element to the performance.

Drawing on their 13 album career, the show shifts between mood and texture. The piano-based ‘Self Sedation’ is an upbeat Badfinger-esque romp. The subtle motorik rhythms of ‘Everything Is Falling Apart’ provide a solid base for the rest of the band to flourish. The magical ‘Did I Say’ is the perfect showcase for their exquisite west-coast inspired harmonies, while the ever-dependable ‘The Concept’ and show closer ‘Everything Flows’ are pure slacker bliss.

While nothing lasts forever, in the hands of Teenage Fanclub, melody and harmony become transcendental. Take a seat and enjoy the ride.

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