Having already set their standard as high as Oasis and Stone Roses, compared themselves to Morrissey and gone on a verbal rant against other bands, The Courteeners have got a lot of justifying to do. The tone is set for the opening night of their first ever headlining tour at the Sheffield Leadmill.
Even the motor mouth front man, Liam Fray, seems lost for words at the reception the band are receiving tonight, some four months before the debut album is released. It is an unfathomable scene of excitable youth sprawling together, crammed into the Steel Stage. The second room at the Leadmill often hosts up-and-coming acts, but rarely does it see a reaction like this. There is barely room for the traffic of surfers tumbling over the crowd crashing straight onto the stage, just missing Fray whilst taking out the mike stand. The singer looks on bemused.
The grit-rockers produce a fine performance tonight, justifying the hype that has been slowly creeping out of their home city of Manchester. Just a few months ago the band were doing gigs at ancient pubs in insignificant towns, and whilst they are on the small stage tonight, next time they will be selling out the main area.
They have the attitude, the body language and the charisma, and most importantly the ability to make fire bolt rock ‘n’ roll tunes. Having arrived three hours late at the venue, the door time and the curfew is pushed later tonight. They seem to be living the disjointed, unorganised lifestyle already, setting their stall out for their future careers. Up in the grim north, we haven’t had this much anticipation about a band since the Arctic Monkeys.
Like the Sheffielders, The Courteeners have grown in popularity through word of mouth, self-promoting and constant low key gigging. That could explain why the large group pouring onto the stage tonight already know the words to songs such as Cavorting. Then as the band break into Acrylic, total mayhem follows. Also tonight, they play the post-libs sound of Kimberley, the frantic fuzzy riffs of Aftershow and closing with the chaotic anthem of What Took You So Long? All tracks that should be on the Stephen Street produced debut album, expected to be released in March next year.
“It’s the first night of the tour so thanks for making it so easy,” declares an upbeat Liam Fray. “Thanks for your continued support, Sheffield.” The new Oasis? Time will tell, but judging by this storming set tonight, it’s not just all talk.