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Live / stage review

The perfect antidote for troubled times: Teenage Fanclub at Leadmill

Maybe ‘Nothing Lasts Forever’, but Blake and McGinley's pure pop-craft just gets better and better.

12 November 2023 at
TF Promo Pic 8 Aug23
Donald Milne.

Rock’n’roll is a fickle business, even more so for so-called ‘jangly’ indie guitar bands. Most groups that graced the scene in the nineties exploded and fizzed brightly before slowly fading away, consigned to Wikipedia with enough memorable songs to count on the fingers of a mitten. However, a few bands eschewed that inevitability and moved quietly from strength to strength, honing and finessing their songcraft until their canon of work almost becomes mightier than individual songs.

Teenage Fanclub is one such band. Founded in Scotland by Norman Blake, Ray McGinley and Gerard Love in 1989 (Love departed in 2018), they now have twelve albums under their collective belts including 2023’s Nothing Lasts Forever, from which five songs are included in their 20-song Leadmill set.

From Glasgow then to The Leadmill, where a sell out, expectant – and seated – Sunday crowd have escaped the grey November mizzle for some much-needed sonic enlightenment. Boy, do Teenage Fanclub deliver. Blake's rather apprehensive approach to the microphone ("I got a shock during soundcheck") is quickly forgotten as the six-piece band charge into opener ‘Tired Of Being Alone’.

A Nirvana connection is evidenced in Blake's Cobain-ish vocal intonation during the brilliant ‘Endless Arcade’, after which he references the band's first appearance at The Leadmill in 1990 ("I bet no-one sat down then"). New track ‘I Left A Light On’ offsets a ‘Hey Jude’ piano refrain with the poignant lyric "I was a lonely soul / Our satellite was falling / We watched it crash and burn" – a real bittersweet moment that hushes the crowd.

The single note piano call and coda of set highlight ‘Only With You’ showcases the band at their most tender, before Blake punctures the emotional balloon by pleading poverty ("I've only got one plectrum – can anyone lend me a fiver?") ‘What You Do To Me’ preludes two songs from 1997's Songs From Northern Britain, – the wah-wah drenched ‘It's a Bad World’ and ‘I Don't Want Control Of You’ – before ‘My Uptight Life’ and ‘The Concept’ from fan favourite Bandwagonesque drive us home.

The three song encore of ‘Back In The Day’, ‘Can't Feel My Soul’ and the extended jam of ‘Everything Flows’ from 1989 debut A Catholic Education prefaces a roar of approval from the crowd. Nothing Lasts Forever is a reflective title for a band with Teenage Fanclub's longevity, but Blake and McGinley's pure pop-craft just gets better with age. Here's hoping there's a lot more to come from Glasgow's finest.

Learn more

The Leadmill have an accessible viewing area for main room shows on request. You can find more information about accessibility at the venue on their website.

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