Saturday, 17 November 2018

Teenage Fanclub Camden night 3

The last 3 weeks have seen a flurry of postings on the Teenage Fanclub Fanclub Facebook page. Outpourings of love for a special band playing their Creation Records albums - Bandwagonesque, Thirteen, Grand Prix, Songs from Northern Britain and Howdy! in Glasgow, Manchester, Birmingham and London.

There were also outpourings of disbelief and grief - were these really the last shows that Gerry Love would be playing with the band?

We'll have to wait and see, but if they were then fellow Fanclub fan Chris Donnelly was there to witness what might have been the last one.

Guest blog by Chris Donnelly.

If I Could Find The Words To Say…

The last night of any Teenage Fanclub tour is usually one that the fans who will be attending look forward to for weeks. The current Creation Years tour really got people buzzing when it was announced. Plenty bought season tickets for the three gigs in the venues nearest their town, several decided to follow it around, some mixed and matched on the venues and loads decided to go to the one which resonated most – usually night two the Grand Prix/Songs From Northern Britain night. For the diehards, however, these were to be gigs to be savoured. Rarely, or never, played songs would all be getting dusted down and played again or for the first time. Vinyl reissues and a tour to follow. What could possibly go wrong? Well, how long have you got?

Firstly, and I appreciate this is a more personal one for me, the proposed site of the Glasgow gigs, the ABC, was destroyed in the School of Art fire. This meant that the original dates had to be rescheduled and shifted back a day. I was stuffed as I was double booked for night two. I couldn’t make any of the other second night gigs anywhere which meant that my TFC holy grail song, Mount Everest, was going to be played and I wouldn’t be hearing it*. I was covered for night 3 as I had booked a ticket for the last night of the tour in London. My misfortune on night two actually was a benefit to a lot more people given the much higher capacity at the Barras.

Secondly, and far more importantly, in late August the band announced a February 2019 tour of Japan and Australia. Good news, eh? Well, not quite. The next paragraph of the announcement stated that “Gerard Love will not be in the band for these dates, or any other shows beyond those we are playing this year. His last show will be November 15th…after that London show Gerry will be separating from the band, and Teenage Fanclub will be continuing without him”. It was a horribly worded and, in my opinion, disrespectful statement which raised more questions than answers and more statements were released over the next few days to try put a more diplomatic spin on the events. 

My night 3 ticket was no longer for just the last night of the tour, it was also for Gerry’s last night in the band. Like most people who will read this, I am a huge fan of the band. However, like anyone, I have favourites and I am proudly in the Gerry camp. For me, and many others, this was particularly devastating news.

Murray has covered off the Barras gigs in this blog so I’ll move on to November 15th at Electric Ballroom Camden. 

I was horribly conflicted about the gig. I was looking forward to it but I also had this horrible sinking feeling about it. I genuinely expected to cry. I thought Broken would be the one which would tip me. The words really hit home that night with the crowd singing along. Amazingly – to me- I held it together and there was one song left. 

Broken - Electric Ballroom, Camden, November 2018

Would they let Gerry sing the last one? The answer, of course, was no. Norman announced Everything Flows which was belted out at full pelt complete with an endearingly shambolic (copyright any TFC gig review) ending as Brendan and Norman swapped instruments, Brendan sang Sidewinder until he couldn’t remember any more words and then it was done. A superb ending to a brilliant gig. Gerry bolted from the stage to the exit door as if he was chasing the last bus to Hyndland. It was then that it hit home with the crowd that he was offski and it was an end of an era. “Gerry, Gerry, Gerry” rang out from all areas of the packed venue but all to no avail. He was gone. No fuss, no fanfare, no speech. Just away. He remains, as long time TFC gig goer Neil McAllister says, as cool as f**k.

Everything Flows - Gerry's last time?

I’m not sure yet how I feel about the band going on without him. At this time, I swither on whether I will ever go see them again. No doubt if they announce a date at the Barras, my Ticketmaster account will get battered again. I need to see them but I know it will never be the same. Whether Gerry will ever do a Nigel Tufnell and reappear from the side of the stage, only he and the band will know. One thing’s for sure: it won’t be in Japan. 

My hope is that after this hiatus, they sort it out and he can be back in his normal place. For me, stage left for the foreseeable future is an empty space.

The closer from Howdy! Summed up my feelings from the night. 

If I never see you again, you will stay in my mind

And that will be true for every other member of the Fanclub community.

*thanks to Terje Lynnebakken @terjely for recording the song in full at the Barrowlands for me.

Everything Flows - Camden, November 2018

Sunday, 11 November 2018


Last week I was driving to work and McAlmont and Butler's Yes suddenly came blaring out of my stereo. What a slice of pure euphoric pop! Released in May 1995, this was Bernard Butler's first musical offering to the world since his departure from Suede in 1994 during the tense recordings of their second album, the dark Dog Man Star.

It is safe to say that Suede made a huge impression on the UK indie scene, so much so that they blew over into the mainstream. Their first 4 singles (previously blogged about here) were exceptional slices of guitar pop, full of hooks and riffs, but also full of intrigue and intelligence. Singer Brett Anderson and guitarist and co-singwriter Bernard Butler looked and sounded incredible and were quickly christened as the 90's Morrissey and Marr, making front covers, Top of the Pops, the Brits and gaining the stamp of approval from David Bowie.

Butler was a whirlwind on guitar, pacing around stages and studios looking like he was having the time of his life by wringing, shaking and hammering on his guitar for all he was worth. Anderson shaked, shimmied and looked like a classic front man from the off. What a duo, brilliantly backed by a super tight rhythm section of Matt Osman and Simon Gilbert. Girls ... and boys swooned.

They had a frantic 3-years of activity following the release of debut single The Drowners, it is little wonder there was tension in the band from all the writing, recording, touring and promo.

Butler left and went quiet. I think there were rumours of him joining various bands at times, but he surfaced with Yes and a partnership with singer David McAlmont. The two met in the Jazz Cafe in Camden and Butler was soon playing his new friend his first positive piece of music since leaving Suede.

And oh how positive it is, McAlmont wrote a verse but couldn't come up with a second, so Butler just told him to repeat the first with the duo hoping to commit something that could be held up as a classic single like those they loved from the 60's.

The official video, the full version has another minute on the end

McAlmont's lyrics match the positive surge of Butler's music. The strings soar and instantly sound euphoric, Butler's guitar crashes and provides a constant rhythm throughout, while seemingly simultaneously chiming and riffing.

The lyrics could easily be McAlmont's interpretation of whatever Butler told him about leaving Suede. The title, the simple Yes, is pure positivity, Butler has recovered from the dark post Suede months, he does look better and he does feel alright.

David McAlmont's vocal is exceptional and after a quick 1st verse that sounds like McAlmont relaying a conversation they are into the sky scraping chorus. The about me, about me, about me line that McAlmont yelps out is the perfect bridge into the chorus. Then they do it again for good measure, only they take it even higher and it sounds even better.

They hit the second chorus at 2-minutes and then repeat it again before leading to a stunning build up to a full on 2-minute climax. They take it higher, Butler's guitar is relentless, the strings are thrilling and McAlmont takes his vocals up a gear or three, the drums crash and pound and it all combines to sound fresh and vital, even 23-years down the line. It is timeless pop - epic, euphoric, sublime and soulful.

The song ends with it gradually breaking and slowing down into applause. I like to think that they simply couldn't keep the pace up or put anymore into it. They have played and sung their hearts out.

Enjoy the live version from Later with Jools below - look at Butler on guitar! And here is a link to the full, near 5-minute single version.

So you wanna know me now
How I've been
You Can't help someone recover
After what you did
So tell me am I looking better?
Have you forgot
Whatever it was that you couldn't stand 
About me, about me, about me?

Because yes I do feel better
Yes I do I feel alright
I feel well enough to tell you what you can do with what you got
To offer

Monday, 5 November 2018

Never Ending Mixtape Part 29

Welcome to the latest additions to my Never Ending Mixtape playlist on Spotify. There is a double dose as a hefty amount of songs are added to take the total songs up to over 750. I missed blogging on my additions last month due to a bit of a Teenage Fanclub fixation, so here we go ....

As always, search for Everything Flows Never Ending Mixtape on Spotify, or CLICK HERE,  scroll to the end for the latest additions that are listed below, play from the start, anywhere in between, or click on shuffle.

Thanks to those of you that follow the playlist and thanks for checking it out.

Autobahn 66 - Primal Scream
In the Year 2525 - Zager and Evans
Here Comes My Baby - The Tremeloes
The Mighty Quinn - Manfredd Mann
Do You Believe In Magic? - The Lovin' Spoonful
Summer in the City - The Lovin' Spoonful
I Think We're Alone Now - Tommy James and The Shondells
(I'm Not Your) Steppin' Stone - The Monkees
Look Out (Here Comes Tomorrow) - The Monkees
She Hangs Out - The Monkees
Is It A Dream? - Miaoux Miaoux
24-Hour Party People - Happy Mondays
Hallelujah (Oakenfold club mix) Happy Mondays
1979 - Smashing Pumpkins
Vanishing Point - New Order
The Killing Moon - Echo and the Bunnymen
Rust - Echo and the Bunnymen
Sometimes - Jesus and Mary Chain
Don't Come Down - Jesus and Mary Chain
Why'd You Want Me - Jesus and Mary Chain
New York City - Jesus and Mary Chain
El Presidente - Drugstore
Slippin' and Slidin' (Peepin' and Hedin') - Little Richard
All Things Must Pass - George Harrison
Duffed Up - Primal Scream
If The Move Kill 'Em (12 inch disco mix) - Primal Scream
Not Enough - J Mascis
Wide Awake - J Mascis
All My Friends - LCD Soundsystem
Losing My Edge - LCD Soundsystem
Bang Your Drum - Dead Man Fall
On The Roof - The Feelies
Don't Falter - Mint Royale w/ Lauren Laverne
You Got The Love (Now Voyager mix) - The Source and Candi Staton
Behold the Miracle - Jad Fair and Teenage Fanclub
Call Me - Emmitt Long
Don't Take My Mind - Bettye Swann
Grunewald - Tess Parks and Anton Newcombe
You're A Big Girl Now (take 2) - Bob Dylan
Why Did You Take Your Love Away From Me - James Brown
Love Slipped Through My Fingers - Ohio Players
Purples - Sebastian Piano
My Heart Needs A Break - Linda Jones
Indian Summer - Beat Happening
Tangled Up In Blue (take 3, remake 3) - Bob Dylan
My Little Girl - Bobby Garrett

Wednesday, 31 October 2018

Teenage Fanclub Barrowland night 3

One of my favourite Teenage Fanclub songs (definitely top 5) is an old b-side called Broken, released as a b-side to Ain't That Enough back in 1997. It never used to be in my top 5 until the band played it many years ago when they did a b-sides and rarities night at Oran Mor in Glasgow. I fell for it big time and since then it is a song I have returned to many, many times.

It was the penultimate song of their 3-nights at the Barrowland Ballroom and it was truly, truly beautiful. I have experienced some incredible moments in the Barras and this was up there. Starting with Norman on acoustic, the band gradually joined him, playing the same fragile riff over and over before Norman started singing your heart has been broken again, it's broken, it's broken.

The song is deceptively simple on paper. There are no more lyrics, they are just repeated like the riff. But the combination of the playing, melody, lyrics, feel and performance of the song is magical. Even more so tonight. Norman and the band gradually fade out and as they faded you could hear the whole of the Barrowland Ballroom singing just as gently, as hushed and as considerate as Norman;

My heart has been broken again
It's broken, it's broken

It was a spine tingling Barrowland moment, kind of difficult to describe, just trust me on this one! My favourite band, playing one of my favourite songs in my favourite venue. Quite a few people seemed to get some dust in their eyes, possibly even some of the band.

And so I'm back home beginning to wonder what I will do tomorrow night. I've seen Teenage Fanclub 4-nights out of 6!

Tonight was the turn of Howdy! and some b-sides and rarities. The second set will cause me to go up in my loft tomorrow to dig out all my old CD singles. I had forgotten about some including a Gerry Love song called Getting Real which is outstanding! I thought it was a cover tonight! In fact it is so good, check it out! It was even better live.

Highlights from Howdy! were Gerry's impeccable Near You, Raymond was outstanding tonight with The Sun Shines From You being my favourite of his, while I'll plump for Norman's If I Never See You Again as my own highlight from his songs from this album.

Norman was beaming all night, a smile was never far from his face. Brendan appeared regularly to assist the band and as always generated smiles and laughter. Paul Quinn was fantastic on drums whilst Francis contributes so much, his backing vocals/harmonies were superb tonight, and of course the ever reliable and supremely talented musician Dave McGowan played all manner of instruments.

The second set of the night was probably my favourite though. The band seemed relaxed and in great spirits as they opened with Norman's sublime Did I Say. Raymond's My Life was another I didn't remember, while Long Hair is one of my favourite Fanclub songs - power punk pop. It sounded sensational with Dave joining Norman and Raymond on electric guitars.

Norman's Some People Try To F**k With You was outstanding and Gerry and Norman singing together on He'd Be A Diamond always caused a nice shiver down my spine.

The aforementioned Broken was magical and a romp through The Flying Burrito Brothers Older Guys closed the night and what may be Gerry Love's final Glasgow show with Teenage Fanclub.

Despite the odd shout from the crowd for a speech, I don't think anyone was really expecting the band or Gerry to make a big deal of it. They've said their piece. Lets just enjoy the amazing music, the memories and also look to the future.

My take - I doubt very much that was the last time I will see Gerry with the band in Glasgow again. I certainly hope not! But the band are off on tour and hopefully Gerry might release some new music.

Now, could I get a ticket for a Manchester or London show....

Tuesday, 30 October 2018

Teenage Fanclub Barrowland Ballroom night 2

Pic by Tony Docherty 

There is no doubt, in what I must do
Nothing is greater, than to be with you

Phew, I'm just in from the Barrowland Ballroom following a peerless performance by Teenage Fanclub who flew though their Grand Prix and Songs from Northern Britain albums.

Paul Quinn replaced Brendan O'Hare on drums (as per the recordings) and it was a classic 4-piece line-up that took to the stage and burst through Raymond's About You to a huge cheer.

O'Hare was never far from the action, walking on to the stage draped in a red cloak at the start of Gerry's much loved Sparky's Dream, appearing with a little percussion instrument to kick off the song. At other times he checked up on the band with a clipboard, or stood beside Dave to play percussion. His humour and energy is infectious and at one point he joked that everyone should look at him cause that's what its all about :-)

Grand Prix has such a superb run of songs, we had Norman's beautiful Mellow Doubt, followed by the stunning Gerry Love penned Don't Look Back. We were being spoilt.

Neil Jung was simply stunning. There was soul, power and real feeling to Norman's guitar and voice. He then excelled in delivering a gorgeous version of Tears which tugged on the heart strings.

The way Norman and Gerry's songwriting developed on Grand Prix was exceptional. Love's energetic Discolite was sublime and Going Places caused hearts to melt, it was exquisite.

It wasn't only Brendan that supplied the humour as Norman regularly had to battle to tune his guitar (just like the old days) or check which fret he should place his capo on.

McGinley's songwriting was also developing, Verisimilitude received a fantastic response from the crowd, while with Say No was one of his own highlights from the night.

Hardcore Ballad was superb. The band riffing and ripping it up to leave Norman alone with his acoustic to sing from the bottom of his heart. It was a stunning end to the set, really beautiful and heartfelt.

And love is easy to define
What mine is yours, and yours is mine
Through the pain, through the pain

Last summer I blogged about Songs from Northern Britain HERE and stated that I had come to the conclusion that it was the best Teenage Fanclub album. I stand by that. My favourite album will probably always be Bandwagonesque cause I discovered that LP and the band when I was 15, a really special time. But song for song and the way all 3 songwriters have developed, SFNB is peerless.

The performance at the Barrowland was exceptional. The way Blake and Love combined their vocals was utterly joyful, the way Raymond shredded his guitar on Can't Feel My Soul was exhilarating, the sky scraping choruses of Ain't That Enough, I Don't Want Control Of You, Take The Long Way Round and Speed of Light made me feel like a teenager, completely lost in the music and the wonder of the sound that 4 friends can create with guitars, bass, drums and a little imagination, and the escapism sought in Planets, Winter and Mount Everest sounded ever more appealing. And then you have the gorgeous Your Love Is The Place I Come From with the usual cheers for Norman on xylophone.

I described the first night at the Barrowland as majestic, well tonight was peerless. Special mention to Dave McGowan and Francis MacDonald (Brendan gets his above) - two incredibly talented musicians who were phenomenal in helping the band sound superb.

Monday, 29 October 2018

Teenage Fanclub Barrowland Ballroom night 1

Teenage Fanclub were magnificent tonight, they were majestic, funny, soulful and true to themselves. They laughed at each other, themselves and together. They had fun and it visibly showed.

The first night of the Creation Records years run of shows at the world famous Barrowland Ballroom was a triumph. The famous Barrowland roar that rose from the floor as the band walked on stage was repeated before they could even begin. The partisan crowd were here to greet band and classic albums Bandwagonesque and Thirteen like long lost friends ... and they did.

She wears denim where ever she goes
Says she's gonna get some records by the Status Quo
Oh yeah
Oh yeah

Norman Blake's words from 1991 were bellowed back at him by the crowd, guitars chimed and Joe McAlinden joined in on violin. The sound was perfect, especially standing in front of Raymond McGinley as he bended notes and shredded his guitar. The band extended The Concept before using feedback to usher in the ferocious riff of Satan. We were off.

December was utterly beautiful as Brendan O'Hare on drums pointed out. The humour Brendan displayed between (and during) songs was often hilarious.

What You Do To Me was guitar pop perfection, the guitars on I Don't Know were glorious and Star Sign was utter joy. O'Hare was magnificent on drums, the rolls during the spaces were sublime, he was on fire. And very nearly passed out, dousing his head with water several times!

It will be really interesting to see the band progress through their catalogue over the 3-nights. The purity of songs like What You Do To Me, the humour in The Concept and Metal Baby are songs that could only have been written by men in their early 20's.

Likewise the simplicity of songs like Pet Rock and Sidewinder make them perfect pop - Love and O'Hare sing of smiles sending them wild, or loving the way their girl walks or talks, when she is ticking he is her tock. It is sublime and a treat to hear and see these songs performed live.

The band changed instruments and personnel throughout the night; Francis MacDonald, Dave McGowan, Joe McAlinden and briefly Paul Quinn were all on stage at one point or another, creating brilliant sounds.

The closing trio of songs were stunning. Alcoholiday probably got the best reception of the night, a Norman Blake masterpiece. Then there was a huge ovation for Gerry just before Guiding Star and he looked emotional and received just as big an ovation afterwards.

Then we had the incredible sound of 4 of TFC on electric guitar for the closing Is This Music? It was and it was tremendous.

After a short break where every guy in the Barrowland seemed to go to the loo, the band were back to play Thirteen. Norman joked by playing the start of The Concept again but then we were into the intro of Hang On with Gerry Love coming up with one of my favourite lines

Of all the stars I've ever seen
You're the sun

Thirteen is the sound of a band developing. You have Norman Blake falling head over heels in love with the girl he would later marry and the chorus of Norman 3 yeah I'm in love with you sounded sublime when the venue sung along with Norman. Commercial Alternative is also the sound of someone falling head first.

Radio was a romp and caused some to pogo. O'Hare was magical on drums on this bubblegum punk pop perfection. 120 Mins was a contender for the most beautiful song of the night with McGowan playing mandolin. They hey hey hey's during Fear of Flying were great fun on stage and off and it was a treat to hear McGinley's stunning Tears Are Cool, truly one of his best, it just flows superbly.

The short Ret Live Dead led into the jam Get Funky and I wish it had gone on longer, again the band looked like they were having real fun with three electric guitars gelling and it caused me to think what bands have fun jams on their albums these days? TFC have always played by their own rules.

Gerry Love's beautiful Gene Clark closed a very memorable night and it was fantastic to see so many friends I have met through a mutual love and appreciation of the band.

Roll on night 2!

Saturday, 27 October 2018

Teenage Fanclub at the CCA

It is difficult to portray the feelings I felt last night when I heard and witnessed Teenage Fanclub play songs like Gene Clark, Sidewinder, Alcoholiday, Fear of Flying, Guiding Star, Tears, Going Places and Neil Jung live.

Many of the songs from the two sets the band performed hadn't been played live in circa 25-years, some had never been played at all. So to hear and witness them live in the intimate setting of the reopened CCA was pretty special.

The fact that the Fannies opened with the almost sacred Gene Clarke was incredible. This is a song that fans have been passionately shouting for at almost every Fanclub gig I have ever attended. People were still queueing to get in when they started. The opening instrumental sounded glorious and then Gerry Love took control and set the controls for the heart of the sun. What a start!

The guitars sounded gorgeous and the band sounded slick and oiled, but with that raw Fanclub soul, swiftly rolling into Metal Baby and Escher before Brendan O'Hare on drums took on lead vocals for a sublime Sidewinder, a bit of a highlight for me.

When you're walking I love your walk
When you're talking I love your talk

My favourite band flew from one into another of my favourite songs. The guitars collided to sound heavenly for Alcoholiday. And if the Creation shows have given me reason to revisit albums from my youth then Gerry Love's Fear of Flying has become a real favourite. It sounded even better live. Raymond's 120-minutes was blissfully simple and beautiful for it, listing things he doesn't know before the kiss off I just wanna see your face again, be my friend.

Guiding Star may well have been my song of the night, it tugged on heart strings I didn't know I had, I may well cry at the Barrowland Ballroom when it is played on Monday night. Commercial Alternative is the joyful sound of a young man in love sounding even better 25-years down the line and the closing instrumental of Is This Music? with Gerry, Raymond, Dave and Francis on electric guitars was utterly stunning.

Pic by Craig Harrower

One of the best things about last night was that there were two real Fanclub fans on stage in the shape of Dave and Brendan. Dave's smile was a wide as the Clyde all night as he got to play these rarely heard songs to an audience that lapped them up. Brendan was the same, full of excited nervous energy (in a good way) and displaying quick wit and good humour throughout.

There was a short break and just enough time to pop to the downstairs bar for a beer, arriving back to find the band blitzing into Speed of Light. Paul Quinn was on drums for the second set, one which for me, highlighted the development of the band. To see the band up close playing songs from Bandwagonesque and Thirteen, followed by a set from Grand Prix, Songs from Northern Britain and Howdy! really showcased their development as songwriters and artists.

Norman and Gerry's voices gelled with ease, their harmonies sounded sublime, Cul De Sac was a particular highlight. Raymond's guitar flourishes were subtle at times, at others they soared. Tears was beautiful, Take The Long Way Round was a blitz of glorious guitar pop, Dumb Dumb Dumb was spine tingling and it was a delight to hear I Don't Care live.

Going Places was just perfect and Neil Jung was another glorious collision of guitars and Norman Blake singing his heart out.

What a fantastic night, the band were in top form and it was lovely to speak with Brendan before the show and hear how excited he was about everything. And it is always a pleasure to meet and converse with fellow Fanclub fans. Roll on the Barrowlands.