This review originally featured in The Skinny.
In a year poisoned by loss and conflict, Teenage Fanclub‘s soothing aural embrace became more necessary than ever. September saw the group release its tenth exquisitely-crafted record Here, a work of shimmering, love-laden beauty – an antidote to the overkill of ills that are seemingly the stars of 2016. The first of two sold-out homecoming shows (the next moving to the more sedate O2 ABC) sees The Fannies cherry-picking from a 25-year back catalogue, building a set befitting its repeated Barrowland roars.
From the chaotic youthful ebullience of the early 90s, a prolific decade on Creation Records traversing the quagmire of Britpop, to the more refined releases post the turn of the new millennium, Teenage Fanclub‘s evolution has been virtually faultless. Tonight takes in every Fanclub incarnation, with new tracks slotting seamlessly between firm favourites. Opener Start Again saunters tentatively through upbeat harmonies before the buoyant romanticism and head fuzz of Sometimes I Don’t Need To Believe In Anything secures the band’s groove. The optimistic Hold On and perfection of Thin Air from the group’s latest effort sandwich the ever-popular Baby Lee prior to two Grand Prix highlights.
The Darkest Part of the Night is as heartwarming as I Don’t Want Control of You, whilst The First Sight is as wondrous as Ain’t That Enough and Your Love is the Place Where I Come From. Teenage Fanclub has weathered the storm through the sheer strength of its three-headed songwriting beast of Norman Blake, Gerry Love and Ray McGinley. It is an incredibly accomplished best of (the band considerately altering a lot of what they played the next night, with Radio getting a rare outing) and the new songs more than hold their own in amongst it.
A jubilant Sparky’s Dream makes way for epic closer The Concept and an encore including Star Sign, a Go-Betweens cover and of course Everything Flows. A beaming Blake suggests it doesn’t get any better than the Barrowlands on a Saturday night, and no one disagrees. Teenage Fanclub’s continued output serves only to strengthen their significance as the years advance – hold them close.