review archive

Teenage Fanclub – one kitten’s memories

November 1989, ULU: The Pastels / The Pale Saints / Ride / Teenage Fanclub - When I see an advert several weeks before this gig I am intrigued and impressed by the name Teenage Fanclub. They turn out to be mindblowingly shambolic, barely managing any ‘songs’.

May 11 1990, The Falcon: Teenage Fanclub / Milk - ‘Teenage Fanclub were v. silly. The ‘singer’ broke a string on the first song and said, ‘Hands up who thinks I don’t need to change a string?’ Kept pointing out how drunk they were and generally being Glaswegian. ‘I ought to tune up really. Who thinks I should tune up? Hands up who thinks I shouldn’t?’ etc and ‘We’ve got some badges somewhere, they’re tops’ (the tops indeed ‘I’m a Teenage Fannie’ badges).’

I’m a Teenage Fannie

June 16 1990: ‘Went to Rough Trade where there was a fug of damp sweatiness, beer bottles everywhere and Teenage Fanclub playing! Too chicken to buy their album ‘cos they were all standing round the counter. The drummer (Brendan O’Hare) bought Dinosaur Jnr ‘Bug’. You’d think they already had that from the sound of them.'

June 18 1990: ‘Bought ‘A Catholic Education’ without fear of TFC lurking as I purchased. It are ace, ‘I don’t fuckin care/ The way you wear your hair / You’re still a fuckin square / and I’m laughing at you all of the time.’’

June 27 1990, Subterrania: Galaxie 500 / Teenage Fanclub - See Timebombs. TFC in not drunk shock!

November 23 1990, ULU: Teenage Fanclub / Gumball / Duglas - See Timebombs. Mass stage invasions, Gerry’s birthday champers passed round crowd, Norman passed round crowd.

December 21 1990, New Cross Venue: See Timebombs. Teenage Fanclub / The Pastels / BMX Bandits - pressies, karaoke ‘guest appearances’ and general goodtime festivities. Woo.

October 17 1991, Town & Country Club: Teenage Fanclub / Velvet Crush - ‘Saw Colm O’Coisiog heading for the bar in a yukko brown leather jacket and Saint Etienne hanging near the back. The Fannies were ace, much jumping ago-go to ‘The Concept’, ‘Heavy Metal’, ‘God Knows It’s True’. ‘Starsign’ had a really loonng intro guitar bit and everyone was dying to burst into frenzied moshing when the song bit came crashing in - ACE. A fabbo ‘Everybody’s Fool’ where everyone joined in the ‘Ah don’t fookin cayerrr!’ bits. Some other ‘Catholic Ed’ stuff and newstuff, ending of course with ‘Everything Flows’, rilly beautiful, went on fer ages ‘n’ ages with Norman turning his amp up at the end. Everyone had a go at singing a song, too (everyone in the Fannies that is, not everyone in the whole world). Gerry looked v. cool at one point a-singin & a-strummin with the light shining down.

Ah don’t fookin cayerrr!

November 18 1993, Forum (note venue has changed name in intervening year): Teenage Fanclub/ Juliana Hatfield 3 / The Posies – ‘Tremendous Fannies, though less newstuff than I’d been expecting/hoping to hear. Did ace v. Byrdsy version of Mr Tambourine Man plus ‘Free Again’ and ‘September Gurls’ Big Starness. ‘God Knows it’s True’, ‘The Concept’ etcetc. Bernard Butler of Suede ‘fame’ came on for encore of ‘Everything Flows’. Norman and Brendan swapped places on guitar and drums for the last song – a cover of ‘Take the Skinheads Bowling’ weird.’

And there the trail disappears until Reading 2001, where it is picked up again for a spot of crazed dancing to ‘Everything Flows’ just like in days of yore. Cut to…

…Teenage Fanclub / Eugene Kelly / Vera Cruise – The Astoria, 19 February 2003

The Arstoria has slowly been filling with an audience who we can no longer refer to collectively as ‘the kidz’. This is what happens when the kidz grow up and the band they threw themselves around to with sherbet hearts and reckless toes comes with them. After being the spazzy young darlings of the moment, Teenage Fanclub’s press coverage and seeming relevance have slowly dimmed over the last decade, but tonight they’re as sparklinglee lovely as always and the place is sold out two nights in a row.

As ever with the Fannies, Eugene Kelly is never far away, warming the crowd up nicely with some charming countryfied cute-lyriced pop. He chucks in a coupla old Vaselines songs, which ones do you think he chooses, girls & boys? ‘Rory Rides Me Raw’?, ‘Sex Sux’? Nooo, it’s the ones that Kurt made famous for him of course, just to remind us of his cool credentials. Admittedly, ‘Jesus Doesn’t Want Me for a Sunbeam’ is heartachingly plaintive, but ‘Molly’s Lips’ is nothing without the original’s ace parping bicycle horn noises which always used to have Kitten and chums curled up with hilarity.

sherbet hearts and reckless toes

So, as we mull over our Scottish pop heritage, Teenage Fanclub stroll on to cheers of love and ransack ‘God Knows It’s True’ yeaahh! This is going to be a good night. Chock full of hits, ‘Radio’, ‘Sparky’s Dream’, ‘What You Do To Me’ all the songs Kitten cricked her neck to in the early nineties. Only then, the kidz were going wiulld, kerazee, bonkers-moshing, stage-diving, taking a cue from the sadly long since departed Bonkers Brendan (Mad As A March) O’Hare. Now, we get a hall full of blokes pushing 30 (from either side) doing a blokes pushing 30 dance, involving a lot of jiggling and arm pumping, but a lot less of the feet actually leaving the floor side of things. There’s a lady behind me looking like she’s just come from a high powered office-job flailing her hair merrily and singing all the words. There’s John Sim (as opposed to Joan Sims, now that would be something), that actor bloke, wiggling approvingly.

As Kitten took a TFC sabbatical during the latter half of the 90’s some of the newer(ish) stuff is unfamiliar, but there is sunspangled West Coastin’ goodness drenching every wibbling string. The band are pure charming as ever, when a baldy bloke comes on to add to the eternal skyscraping majesty that is ‘Everything Flows’, Norman says, ‘Thanks to Billy Corgan there. No not really.’ Hoho.

By the end, everyone has a manic glint in their eye as ‘The Concept’ trundles out to soothe our souls and people’s joints have stopped creaking. Oh the splendid irony of being called Teenage Fanclub when your fanclub is like, dead old. I knew I was impressed by the name.

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