Teenage Fanclub are among the most effortlessly and unassumingly brilliant of all bands. Norman Blake, Raymond McGinley and Gerry Love may not be the lightning rods for melody that they were ten to fifteen years ago; still, -Baby Lee’, -Dark Clouds’ and about half of the just-released Shadows suggest that they still exhale three-part harmony as easily as most of us breathe air.
TFC have a huge back catalogue replete with peaks, and the list of songs they played in the Academy (-About You’, -Everything Flows’, -The Concept’, -Sparky’s Dream’) might be surpassed only by the list of their own songs that they didn’t play (-Neil Jung’, -Alcoholiday’, -Star Sign’, -Discolite’, and so on, and so on). So it’s hard to imagine what a poor Teenage Fanclub show could sound like – though this show in the Academy provided a few pointers.
First, the sound in the Academy was awful; not a new complaint, I note from previous reviews on State. There was a poster in the bar for an upcoming Cannibal Corpse show, and it occurred to me that a death metal audience might not mind so much the inability to make out two singers at the same time, or the crunching thud of the bass, like your neighbour whacking on the wall with a large sack filled with wet sand. But Norman and Gerry’s relatively restrained Glaswegian tones and Raymond’s intricate arpeggios didn’t make it. Only -The Concept’, really, got through, thanks to its Dinosaur Jr fuzz and the fact that we couldn’t hear the bad sound because we were roaring that gorgeous sad simple chorus (-I didn’t want to hurt you, Oh yeah’) right back at them. I would think long and hard about seeing any band I cared about at all in this venue again.
Then, they left way too early. Just over an hour in they said they had one song to go, and we thought they were joking. (Norman was in clownish form.) We’d just started! We were on our first drink! But no, a couple of encores later that was it, and it was hard not too feel deflated. Imagine as a Liverpool fan going to Anfield in the Eighties only to be put sitting behind a pillar, and it’s nil-nil, and the team walks off the pitch for an early bath. TFC on Sunday was a little like that.