SLIDESHOW & REVIEW: The Courteeners - Empress Ballroom

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THIS was reminiscent of an Oasis gig in the 90s - a huge crowd, bouncing from front to back row at the Empress Ballroom, mainly made up of 20-something lads who’d possibly had a beer or five.

The Courteeners are something of an oddity in that they are massive in the north, particularly around the Manchester area, but – unlike Oasis – haven’t made the breakthrough and become international or even proper national stars.

The Courteeners on stage to the delight of the audience at the Empress Ballroom (below).

The Courteeners on stage to the delight of the audience at the Empress Ballroom (below).

Then again with lyrics like “I’m only a paper boy from the North West” or songs about walking along Deansgate and boozing in Fallowfield (as opposed to Noel Gallagher’s more universal words), it’s perhaps not surprising that these four lads from Middleton are best enjoyed in these parts.

Lucky for us I say for The Courteeners are a mighty fine band. They aren’t going to change the world but they have written three albums worth of very impressive guitar songs, with clever everyday lyrics and big choruses.

Frontman Liam Fray, responsible for writing all the material, has a powerful Mancunian delivery which is perfect for the type of kitchen sink lyrics he writes.

There were plenty of tunes from latest album Anna, though it was the old favourites that earned the biggest response. The Opener - played, for once, halfway through the set, had every single fan singing along, as did set-closers, Not Nineteen Forever and What Took You So Long?

The Courteeners on stage to the delight of the audience at the Empress Ballroom.

The Courteeners on stage to the delight of the audience at the Empress Ballroom.

The only downside to what was otherwise an enjoyably sweaty and raucous evening was a muffled sound. The guitar parts in particular were difficult to decipher.

But no one really cared. This was one big giant party, delivered by a band who deserve to be national treasures but at the moment seem still to be the north’s best kept secret.

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