The Courteeners @ The Empire On Thursday 5th December 2013

The Courteeners, Middlesbrough Empire, Thursday 5th December, 2013

The Courteeners used the stage of the intimate Middlesbrough Empire on Thursday night to promote their newly released single ‘Are You In Love With a Notion?’ (released 9th December 2013). Adverse weather conditions throughout the country that day meant that it was a memorable day, The Courteeners were successful in creating a memorable gig, a memorable night. Mixing and blending their newer material well with the old, helping the boisterous atmosphere by placing some of their earlier anthem type tunes at clever times into the set list.
The Middlesbrough Empire venue was well suited, it is well suited to most events. It is an aesthetically pleasing building both inside and out, more importantly it has bars in several locations. At first it seemed that it was going to be too small a venue, a hundred people too many, but the second level balcony areas provided additional seating and space as well as improved views of the stage, band and crowd below.
The band themselves were very good, their biggest asset is undoubtedly Liam Fray. He does the job of frontman well, engaging with the crowd when needed, ducking the half empty plastic container of urine or lager when required (and it was). He referred to the ‘Boro’ (pronounced Burra) fitting in and connecting well with the crowd, during both his mini acoustic set and when he was with the rest of his band. It wasn’t a homecoming gig as such but it had a slight homecoming feel. Down maybe to the fact that the Courteeners have included a Middlesbrough venue on consecutive tours, maybe due to the explicit northerness of the band, particularly its front man, helping them fit in. The new material was catchy and as with all tunes by the Courteeners well worth another several listens. They seem to have progressed and evolved collectively, seen not just in the facial hair grown by Liam Fray but instrumentally and vocally. For some fans the new material might not match up initially to that of the older material but might in time.
As stated, perhaps the bands biggest asset is its front man Liam Fray, but to such an extent that the other band members are largely forgotten. It is not because Fray does it on purpose nor that he has enough charisma to blind people in to forgetting that other people exist, it just seems that other members are a bit rigid. This criticism aside, it was a very good gig, plenty of jumping and singing which are always good signs. Tunes such as What Took You So Long and You Overdid It Doll are perfect songs to play to an intimate venue made up largely of fans and the new material went down well. It would be surprising if the Courteeners didn’t return to Middlesbrough on their next tour, they have a large and genuinely interested following in the area. Expect them back again next year.

Great news; the Empire is still not finished. This week sees Fatboy Slim on Thursday (12th of December) and Howard Marks the night after (Friday 13th December). Check their web site below.

A big thank-you to Jack Carey for this review and Ash, as always, at the Empire.




By peter on December 11, 2013

Check out all the pics

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