“Hello again New York! This is the third time we’ve come around for this album, and we’re glad you’re not sick of us yet,” said the ever-modest Norman Blake of Teenage Fanclub; the Scottish kings of 90’s indie pop, at Warsaw in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, during the final show of their massive comeback tour. They certainly have not worn out their welcome yet, and if anything, their fans are more rabid for them now more than ever. The release of their first album in over six years, called simply Here, has proven they’re more vital and influential than ever, as well as being perhaps their warmest love letter and most loving embrace to their admirers of their 27-year long history. I’ve seen two of the three of the NYC shows Norman had mentioned, as well as their big comeback show at the Upper West Side’s Pier 84 overlooking the Hudson a couple years back, and I can safely say that Teenage Fanclub aficionados are some of the most loyal and loving fans I have ever experienced in all of my concert-obsessed adulthood. This show proved to be my favorite of all three, as well as a perfect sendoff to one of the best bands in the business, and a blissful goodbye from their loving devotees.
Britta Phillips was originally scheduled to open the show with a solo set, but she had to pull out, presumably because her band Luna is now finishing up their first album in over a decade. Instead, we got one of my favorite local Brooklyn bands by the name of Holy Tunics, who actually proved to be the most fitting opener to any Teenage Fanclub show I’d ever seen. I always thought the Tunics had a certain 80’s/90’s indie pop feel, conjuring fuzzy, low-fi visions of early REM, The Lemonheads and even fellow Scottish icons like The Beta Band and Belle and Sebastian with their jangly guitar pop. Their music always seems to me to be a boiling mix of brooding indie with wisps of The Smiths and melancholy shoegaze-y elements of the likes of Ride and Swervedriver. The lineup of the reclusive Brooklyn band has changed over the years, but core members, singer and guitarist Nick Rogers and bassist Matt Billington, still have a kind of killer power pop crooning tag team thing going on. Their latest EP Hot to Trot was released last year (engineered by one of NYC’s premier music talents Jeff Berner), and it has that gorgeous upbeat appeal and captivating charm that really makes this band a local jem.
Before the boys of Teenage Fanclub took off back across the pond for some festival appearances later this year, they blew out an amazing set full of favorites and fresh tracks alike. The core of this band is still very much intact and vital after all this time, with lead guitarist Raymond McGinley and bassist Gerard Love sharing fronting duties with Blake many times throughout the show, and Francis MacDonald of Camera Obscura and The Vaselines fame filling in the drums for these fellow legends. The biggest surprise of the lineup turned out to be Michael Benjamin Lerner; better known as the powerhouse one-man-band Telekinesis, backing them on keys, guitar, harmonies, and whatever else they may need to fill out their deeply rich soundscapes. They played many classics like “Star Sign,” “The Concept,” “I Don’t Want To Control You,” “It’s All in My Mind,” and of course a triumphant finale with “Everything Flows.” They also played “Going Places” because of a big banner that some fans had up front and passed up to the band. They also broke out with a gorgeous cover of “Easy Come Easy Go” by Grant McLennan (of The Go-Betweens) some 10 years after his death with Love and Blake switching place on bass and guitars. There was so much love, admiration, and smiles going on at this show that you couldn’t help skipping away with as better outlook on life.
Article: Dean Keim