By Kieran Bowie
With no Manchester gig on this Winter’s Mapping the Rendezvous tour, Liverpool’s Echo Arena was the closest thing to a homecoming gig in 2016 for Courteeners. Although it’s fair to say that a number of the Manchester faithful made the short trip to Merseyside. The Scousers did not disappoint either, showing that the Mancunians aren’t the only ones who’ll virtually sell their souls for a Courteeners ticket.
So far on the Mapping the Rendezvous tour, Courteeners had experimented with the setlist. Liverpool kept with that theme and presented the longest and most well-rounded set list of the tour so far. Traditional set opener Are You in Love With a Notion? was back in all its glory, Cross My Heart and Hope to Fly was a welcome surprise and their new songs held their own despite the band’s incredibly strong back catalogue. Whilst being critical of the album version of De La Salle, the live version is a vast improvement. Presented without its string section allows frontman Liam Fray to introduce a more stripped back rendition of the track, testament to Fray’s recent acoustic dates across the UK.
Courteeners’ choice to weave snippets of classics into their own tunes works brilliantly, with Pulp’s Disco 2000 being mixed with No You Didn’t, No You Don’t, and their regular rendition of James’ Tomorrow within What Took You So Long? continuing to prove to be perfect fan favourites.
Another inevitable fan favourite moment was the band’s anthem of youth, and arguably their biggest hit, Not Nineteen Forever, which had fans bouncing even in the seated section. The pacing of the set worked well for the band, with their biggest tracks spread out evenly across the set. For a band with a number of classics in their arsenal, their newer tracks went down well, with the set including The Dilettante, The 17th and Modern all from Mapping the Rendezvous.
The final phase of the concert ensured fans went home happy. Courteeners choose not to play an obligatory encore at the end of their shows, a ploy that’s largely lost its effect in the modern live music scene. The crowd would have loved to experience more of Courteeners music, however, it makes a refreshing change to see a band construct a setlist that includes all the best songs possible, rather than having a kind of “greatest hits” themed encore at the end.
There were flares set off throughout the night, despite warnings, the first one going off before the band even walked on stage. By the end of the night, these had created a great sea of red that only added to the atmosphere of their final climactic performance of St Jude’s What Took You So Long. Although my Manchester bias forces me to mention that the crowd wasn’t quite a hometown crowd, the atmosphere within the Echo Arena was fantastic, setting a high bar for the rest of the arena’s the band will play before the end of the year.
God bless the band. Roll on the 27th May.
Are You in Love With a Notion?
Not for Tomorrow
No One Will Ever Replace Us
Bide Your Time
Take Over the World
Cross My Heart and Hope to Fly
De La Salle
No You Didn’t, No You Don’t (Disco 2000 by Pulp snippet)
Here Come the Young Men
Not Nineteen Forever
What Took You So Long?