Liam Fray and co play a charismatic and tender set to an adoring Edinburgh crowd.
You know where you are with The Courteeners. They’re an honest and unfiltered group, whose songs have propelled them to the hearts of many while they’ve established themselves as one of the biggest guitar bands in the country.
And you know where you are with them when it comes to their live appearances. Sitting on a strangers shoulders, singing your lungs out while being sconed with lager filled plastic cups.
In all fairness, The Courteeners are at that level of fame headlining their own festival. But the point of the Whites of the Eyes tour was to play the smaller venues and rattle through a "Greatest Hits" type set which brought them to the O2 Academy in Edinburgh (24 November 2021).
Proceedings got off to a great start when local indie-pop outfit The Vistas ploughed through their lively material which got an already boisterous crowd in the mood for the main event. Then, after some carefully selected tunes you’d find in your local student nightclub, the band appeared.
In Liam Fray, The Courteeners have one of the best lead singers around. Not only can he belt out a tune but he’s full of the charisma and confidence that seems to flow in the water supply in the North West of England.
He’s also got a different look with his peroxide blonde short hairdo replaced by long black locks making him look like a rock God. Ideal for the heavy sound of set opener ‘Heart Attack.’
There wasn’t a let-up. The band laid waste to old favourites ‘Are You In Love With A Motion’ and ‘Cavorting’ before changing track with the dance fussed ‘Cross My Heart And Hope To Fly.’ The impressive light display at the O2 backed this perfectly, a vast improvement on when it was formerly the Corn Exchange.
Fray made an apology for his voice being slightly, er, frayed but it didn’t matter as the crowd roared every word back at him.
Below the swagger lies a tenderness. ‘Small Bones’ is one of the finest songs in recent times about falling in love and it sent the crowd into chant along frenzy.
Echoing the Gallagher brothers at their peak with an ability to knock out B-sides as good as everyone else’s a-sides, Fray strums along to ‘Smiths Disco’ in a solo spot before the proper encore.
And it’s a stunning finale. ‘Hanging Off Your Cloud,’ ‘Modern Love,’ ‘One Day At A Time’ and ‘Not Nineteen Forever’ helped raise the roof off the venue with everyone bouncing along in unison.
They ended their epic set in spectacular fashion. ‘What Took You So Long,’ quite possibly their finest moment, faded into ‘Tomorrow’ from James. It’s a subtle nod, along with having tunes from Oasis and The Stone Roses played before the gig, of the band following in the footsteps of their fellow Mancs and establish legends.
Judging by their performance in Scotland’s’ capital city, it won’t be long before The Courteeners are regarded in the same class as their heroes.