Monday, March 17, 2003

FAN CLUB FAN CLUB: Phil Scowen caught up with Teenage Fanclub when their not-quite-a-comeback tour made it to Japan...

Teenage Fanclub came to Tokyo earlier this month and sold out two nights at the Liquid Rooms in Shinjuku (this makes them a bigger draw than Suede and Badly Drawn Boy here, but not as popular as Lavigne, Beck or the Stones) so they kindly agreed to add a date at the Blitz in Akasaka, a larger venue, at the end of the tour, a result for me as I finish early on Saturdays and could go.

Who could resist these guys, ageing gracefully as they are and slipping into their warm, cosy songs? Norman smiled all night, chatting to the crowd, giving love. Raymond to his right looked more serious, maybe nervous even and Gerry, on bass, on Norm's left, was, I would venture, the coolest, the slimmest, wandering back to stand next to his amp sometimes. The guys are on about their third drummer now, I think this one is called Francis. The keyboardist, too, is one I haven't seen before. The three mainmen guys each sang a selection of a few of their lovelorn and in-love songs, pretty much taking turns all night.

They were in form that night the Fanclub, playing for about 80 minutes, roaming backward and forward through their back catalogue as they are supporting their compilation album at the moment. Their songs are so short to the point, and all are full of love. The sound in the Blitz was crystal as the guys' harmonies, when they got going, seemed to go on for miles and stretch away into the fug and smog of Tokyo, cutting through the haze. "Ain't That Enough" had magic in its bones on Saturday night and "Don't Look Back" did too. There were endearing little mistakes when their sampler machine chugged out the intro to "I Don't Want Control Of You" too early. Nobody grumbled. Song after song after song after song chimed out sweetly - "Mellow Doubt", "About You", "Metal Baby", "Planets", "Radio", all quality pop - and the almost sold-out Blitz loved it. The encore was about five songs long and finished with "Everything Flows". Happy night, glorious songs, top band.

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