Teenage Fanclub at Kentish Town Forum
This was the perfect summer gig. Good vibes and sunshine melodies dominated proceedings at the Kentish Town Forum; Teenage Fanclub produced a deliriously optimistic, singalong set which the gathered cognoscenti lapped up in droves. The first half adhered religiously to the Don’t Look Back rules ‘n’ regulations: a band should play a classic album in its entirety and each Bandwagonesque classic was greeted with unbridled yet touching enthusiasm. It was obvious that the band enjoyed returning to the seminal tunes of 1991. What You Do To Me sounded like the Power-Pop classic it is, all swagger and joy while December’s delicately constructed guitar underpinned a beautiful melody and emotional lyric. To be honest every song was a bona fide belter and demonstrated why the album is so warmly thought of. The second half was even more rewarding though. Unshackled by the regimentation of ‘the rules’, the band could explore its wondrous back catalogue. Plundering mainly Songs From Northern Britain and Grand Prix, the group bombarded the now sweaty yet exuberant hordes with too many gems to mention. Personal favourites included an earnest I Don’t Want Control Of You, a plaintive and elegiac Ain’t That Enough and an ecstatic I Need Direction from Howdy! that had hundreds of delirious grown-ups attempting harmonious backing vocals with gusto. I was desperate for a Planets but most of my pre-gig wishlist had been ticked off by the close of play. I blow hot and cold when it comes to nostalgia and don’t fully approve of ‘greatest hits’ packages. It seemed more of a celebration on Monday night though and I guess the Don’t Look Back concerts allow bands to unselfconsciously embrace the past without embarrassment. This was a wonderful evening.
Gigging apart, London was a hoot. I enjoyed it. On Monday, S, D and I trotted around and explored record shops. I do like Fopp Records where bargains lurk in every nook. I picked up a shimmering King Tubby Boxed Set, Fourth Drawer Down by The Associates, the classic 1960s psychedelic compilation, Nuggets, a bewitching collection by cool French sixties chanteuse Francoise Hardy called Les Chansons D’Amour and, I confess, a Gary Numan album. We lunched jovially at the Grape Street Wine Bar before strolling to Euston Road where I needed to buy a few bits and pieces from the London Chess and Bridge Centre. As we approached that thoroughfare we spotted a very long queue of people snaking around the corner. A prescient D murmured that he hoped said queue wasn’t for the chess shop but, to our shock, it was and the reason for such a body of (rather nerdy) humanity was suddenly stood next to us surrounded by burly security men. Esteemed World Chess Champion Garry Kasparov had arrived to sign copies of his new book and give a lecture. Being a chess aficionado this proved a very exciting encounter but I chose not to fork out twenty-five English pounds on his latest tome in order to meet and greet the controversial chess genius. Later in the evening, both before and after the concert, I sampled strawberry flavoured beer for the first time. A simple gentleman from the west, I was overwhelmed by the experiences the capital city offered me. I thank D and A publicly for their hospitality. Strawberry beer, eh?
I think I'll write something about the rugby soon. It has been a while.