The Courteeners @ O2 Academy Live Review

Posted: 21st October 2008
Review Info
4 out of 5
Luke Glassford
The Courteeners @ O2 Academy Live Review

Live Review

The Courteeners rise to prominence in recent years has been nothing short of phenomenal. Their debut album, St Jude, was released a mere two years after they were formed, reaching number four in the album charts and spawning a succession of top 20 singles. The sold out crowd and shiny new surroundings of the newly built Leeds Academy proved an appropriate venue as Britains brightest band continued their meteoric rise.

Perhaps their biggest asset is front man Liam Fray, who tonight gave the two support acts a lesson in charisma and stage-craft. Comparisons with that other Mancunian front man called Liam are inevitable; the voice, the swagger, the hair - but to accuse Fray of being nothing but a Gallagher-copyist would do his undoubted talents an injustice. His street-poet lyrics about birds and beers are more reminiscent of Alex Turner and vocally he has the roguish charm of a pre-tabloid Pete Doherty.

Not surprisingly, most of tonights songs are from St. Jude. A ferocious rendition of Aftershow lets the audience know exactly what they are in for, and the pace never drops as they rip through album favourites No You Didnt No You Dont, What Took You So Long? and perhaps their most well known anthem Not Nineteen Forever.

There is no doubting that The Courteeners are Liams band. As if acknowledging this, the rest of the band exit stage left mid-gig and let him take on An Ex Is An Ex For A Reason and Yesterday, Today and Probably Tomorrow solo. With both songs heavy on the introspection they probably benefit from the stripped down, minimalist approach - but with the spotlight so firmly fixed on Liam you get the impression the rest of the band could easily become expendable as his star continues to rise.

This is not to say the others do not contribute to the performance, far from it. On record I have always found The Courteeners fairly anodyne, as if there is something essential missing in the production. But live the band breathe life and soul into the songs and help turn almost everyone of them into anthems, providing the platform from which Liam soars.

Luke Glassford