Monday, February 10, 2003

More Morag

Last Monday, Teenage Fanclub in Manchester:

I made huge efforts to get to the uni (oops. Sorry academy 2) early because I've got a crush on vera cruse. Because i'm so early I loiter and talk to the guy on the door who hollered 'alright trouble. i didnt think it was country and western night tonight' and then I'm pissed off when I realise they started at 7.45 but that soon evaporates when I realise its becuase there's going to be a Eugene Kelly set too. Wooooooo-hooooooooo!

I catch the last couple of vera cruse songs and find it hard to explain to myself just why they matter to me. Its another Scottish guitar band who like nirvana?but so what? They are more than that and I love them for that special something that means they do it for me. Pure and simple.

Next up its Eugene Kelly, an unexpected and quite wonderful treat.
Vera Cruse are his backing band for a set of what he calls `old man's blues' He ploughs his usual miserable, melodic and wittily perceptive furrow. I love him. When he walked on stage a few people cheered very loudly - I was one of them - but most people ignored him. He shrugs and says "that's showbiz". The first song is my favourite, I think it's new. It begins "stop the press/ I'm in a mess/ I kissed a girl to shut her up/ it didn't work." He declines requests to play any captain America tunes but does tell us he used to be in a band called the vaselines. Someone cheers and he
says "Was it really that great? I don't think so." He plays a
fantastic version of 'Jesus don't want me for a sunbeam' and an audible murmur goes up from the crowd "listen. He's playing a nirvana song" Bah. Try opening your ears. No matter; I feel smug and deeply content. If only the bmx bandits were here too I'd be in heaven.

It's easy to forget just how brilliant the fannies can be. I mean they've been putting out consistently great records for so long I kind of take them for granted; they always hover just outside my top ten. Perhaps it's because, whilst they always delight, they tend to lack the ability to surprise and awe. This means they can appear a bit workmanlike on occasion - they do so tonight once or twice - but truly I think it's a case of they know what they like and what they
can do. And they really do do it pretty fucking well. I wish critics would get over the Byrds comparisons; yes they clearly love west coast harmonies but they turn them into touchy and poignant songs about northern Britain. And that means more to me than mr tambourine man ever will.

Within a minute of appearing on stage `God knows it's true' kicks in and all at once my faith is restored; what a fantastic record. Timeless and with a hook that buries itself deep into your heart.

Norman promises us songs from every album; by the time they reach the final sparky's dream they have more than fulfilled the promise. I think it was perhaps skewed towards earlier stuff but maybe that's just me, because these are the songs I cherish most. Nothing disappointed. They did a cracking version of verisimilitude, which is my favourite fannies song, and when they sang "what you do to me' I felt an unexpected lump in my throat: memories of indie discos of yore when boys looked like girls and girls all looked pretty.

The biggest problem was finding a space to dance and a gap in the setlist so I could nip to the bar. The room was packed; busier than I've seen for ages, its good to see they inspire such love. I was at the front for a long time but eventually moved back and was very irritated by someone talking VERY LOUDLY behind me. I wondered why no-one asked them to shut up but then realised the culprit looked suspiciously like Manchester's number one twat in hat and mindful of what happened last time I simply moved again.

Of course there was an encore - it was obvious not least because the most requested song hadn't been played yet -so they returned after Norman had `nipped out for a wee'. Everything flows was majestic, and then, finally, came a singalonga version of The Concept. It's got to be a contender for best opening lines ever:
"she wears demin wherever she goes/ I think she's gonna get a record by the status quo/ oh yeah. Oh yeah. Says she won't be forced against her will/ she don't do drugs but she's on the pill/ oh yeah / Oh yeah. I din't mean to hurt you ooooh yeah..."

fucking genius.

I leg it out quickly, I don't want to have a taxi battle, and at the bottom of the stairs some smiley people are giving out flyers. I take one and think nowt; then I look again; its vera cruse and of course I have to say something. The singer is nearest so I say "excuse me, I think you're brilliant"; he looks deeply bemused when, for some reason, I start wittering on about how I got here really early and still missed half the set but saw them on the loose tour and really loved the album', I realise he now looks a wee bit
scared so I say `aw, don't worry. I'm just super geeky indie girl' and then he looks relieved and thanks me and says I'm not a geek. And then I run off.

Outside there is a blanket of snow. I had no idea. It looks
beautiful and I start laughing but then think oh fuck. There's hardly any cars about. How am I going to get home? I start trudging up oxford road and by chance a cab pulls up. It seems to be the only taxi running in Manchester. I go home feeling deeply content with
being alive.


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