The Courteeners - Manchester Arena
So, another full house at the enormodome for the local heroes. For the second time in two years, they drag 19,000 punters out onto the freezing streets. Two supports work hard to warm up a crowd that doesn't appear to need it. Local lass Findlay, building a bit of buzz with the 'Jean Genie' stomp of 'Your Sister' makes enough of an impression on an unforgiving stage to make you look for a more intimate option before too long. The View are next. Everyone seems to like it. Mmm. I suggest we stop there.
And so to the local lads made good - and then some. For a band who rarely get their faces into the usual media streams, The Courteeners have built a fanbase both large and loyal. You can hear some of their less well-loved peers hissing with envy. And well-loved they are, certainly round these parts. You'd think it was Elvis sauntering onstage, such is the roar that greets their entrance. And fair play to them. Fail to connect in here and the Arena becomes a chill cavern. Grab your audience from the off, pace your set smartly and the magnitude of the event slaps you around the side of the head.
Liam Fray's methodology (heart-on-sleeve confessionals and calls to arms, light on too much melody but heavy on rabble-rousing conviction) won't change the world but his way with a crowd would fail to impress only the most stony-hearted. The pounding opening of, ahem, 'The Opener' and 'Cavorting' sets the place alight. A mid-set acoustic trio on a second stage out in the arena puts Liam in the faces of his people, with the crowd word-for-word on 'Yesterday, Today and Probably Tomorrow'. (The "Liam, Liam" chants eventually become a bit tiresome but their target does at least respond with something that looks suspiciously like genuine humility.)
A closing brace of 'Not Nineteen Forever' and 'What Took You So Long' is predictable but effective, the floor a bouncing mass, the ovation large and sustained. Of course, they're not for the groovy gang but mocking The Courteeners' peoples' champions status (inexpensive tickets, expensive lightshow, two hour set) would be petty indeed. Who knows how they got here? More pertinently, would you bet on them not staying?