This week it was announced that Bellshill’s finest purveyors of (American and Scottish) West Coast rock/country-rock/pop-rock, Teenage Fanclub, will tour Australia in early 2019. Sadly it will be without one of the three founding members/singer-songwriters, Gerard Love. Can it be the same? Will you still go?
While we ponder this, Wind Back Wednesday goes back to a night in 2005, about halfway through their continuing love affair with Australia. It wasn’t perfect but it was a reminder of why many of us have dipped in regularly.
Metro Theatre, August 17
As the old blues song has it, time is the revelator.
A little over a decade ago, when Teenage Fanclub introduced themselves to Australian audiences many of us caught them at the Big Day Out. On a hot, bright afternoon the pale Scots sweated, nearly melted and put on one of the most enjoyable shows of that or any BDO.
In their tours since they've never failed to be charming, cheerful and crammed full of harmonies. Their kit bag of songs, thanks to having three fine songwriters in the band, is never short of some gem to be pulled out when things slacken the slightest bit. The songs are still there and still coming, as the most recent album Man Made proved, but like an old Victrola, or maybe that car that Adam Gilchrist's "dad" drives in the television ad, the Teenage Fanclub engine takes a bit of time to warm up these days.
This show began sluggishly: more at an amble than a trot. Several new songs led the way but that wasn't the problem. After all, Norman Blake's almost ambient jam It's All In My Mind and Raymond McGinley's floaty Nowhere may be less familiar but they are just as much quintessential Fanclub songs as Gerard Love's 1997 Byrdsian Speed Of Light which followed them in the setlist.
Maybe it was jetlag, a bad pre-show meal or just one of those things when you're not 22 and up for anything. Who knows? Whatever it was, for a while then it looked as if this was going to be closer to a chore than a pleasure.
But then the spot-on harmonies of I Don't Want Control Of You began to arrest the drift. Soon sneaky pleasure was to be found in a song where the guitar lines sounded as if they were being played by Jeff "Skunk" Baxter (we know these Glaswegians love the West Coast feel but a Doobie Brothers' reference? How shocking!) and then the noise-meets-prettiness of About You fully righted the ship.
While it's fair to say the rest of the show didn't always soar - though finishing the set with Sparky's Dream is the ultimate bit of sunshine pop buzz - Teenage Fanclub didn't flag again.
Teenage Fanclub 2019 tour, on sale August 27
Corner Hotel, Melbourne, February 12; Metro Theatre, Sydney, February 15; The Triffid, Brisbane, February 16; Powerstation, Auckland, February 18