There’s few sadder things in life than watching an elderly family dog in its final years, no longer young and sprightly, reduced from formerly boisterous greetings, rushing down the hall, paws scampering against wooden floors, to a raising of the head in weary reverence, coupled with a few limp wags of the tail. It’s hard not to feel a similar sadness watching Teenage Fanclub tonight.
We all know that this band’s best years are behind them, though we are careful to voice it too casually because it’s such a painful admission, but the lethargic delivery of this performance was downright upsetting. We should still be able to cling to the great memories and be reminded of why we are here, because we love the bright guitar-pop melodies and utter refusal to deviate from such a watertight, brilliant formula, but lamentably often there was no urgency, no excitement.
This is partly down to some substandard sound-checking. Set opener ‘Start Again’ doubles as sage advice as Norman Blake’s vocals struggle to be heard and volume levels have to be quickly adjusted. It’s all the more disappointing when in contrast with the odd euphoric high. ‘The Concept’ gets a suitably rapturous response, as of course does pretty much anything from Grand Prix, including the great-regardless-of-circumstance ‘About You’. And lined up against all the past classics it’s clear that new single ‘Baby Lee’ belongs in the pantheon of excellent Teenage Fanclub singles.
It should all be like this but it’s not, and the whole experience is quite underwhelming. Material from new album Shadows stands up quite well, but it’s only been on sale for a couple of days and it’s obvious that most of the crowd just can’t get as excited over it. The set-list was as good as anyone could have hoped for, just the execution that faltered. All that’s left to do now is go home, put on Bandwagonesque and cry into a pillow, reminiscing about happier times.