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

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