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Teenage Fanclub are one of Britpop's most unheralded exports and their Melbourne show proved that

It was a trip down memory lane for many of the punters at the show.

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Andrew Friend

Teenage Fanclub stand amongst the likes of Oasis, Blur and Pulp as one of Britpop’s best, but often overlooked, exports. Bookending the '90s with cult hit albums such as Bandwagonesque and Grand Prix, the Scottish group have continued to push out quality material well into the 21st century. With the departure of bassist Gerard Love, one-third of the equally shared songwriting trio, at the end of 2018, you’d think that Teenage Fanclub would think about taking some time off. But not to be deterred by Love’s absence, they’re back in Melbourne for a string of shows at The Corner Hotel.

The first track on their 1997 album Songs from Northern Britain, ‘Start Again’, begins the show brilliantly as it churns the space with energy, almost symbolising the band starting over again. This was only after the quartet, including new bassist Dave McGowan, trundled onto stage with the opening of the red curtain, tuned up for about ten minutes, then made a laugh out of their lack of professionalism. Such a laidback nature comes from a band that have been going around for 30 years.

Since the departure of Gerard Love, Teenage Fanclub stray from playing the songs which he has written. Well-known hits such as ‘Sparky’s Dream’ and ‘Ain’t That Enough’ don't see the light of day, nevertheless, this opens the door for lesser-known songs to hit the stage – a treat for the most adoring Teenage fans.

 
 
 
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A post shared by Teenage Fanclub (@teenagefanclubofficial) on Feb 12, 2019 at 2:38am PST

Between playing tunes like ‘Your Love is the Place Where I Come From’ while wielding a xylophone and then rocking out to ‘Alcoholiday’, lead singer Norman Blake was not afraid to make sly quips, giving the audience a taste for what it would have been like to see these guys when they first started out in the pubs of Scotland. But that’s not to say that they are out of touch. After playing early track ‘Catholic Education’, Blake jovially remarked ‘You wouldn’t hear Ed Sheeran playing that!’

New songs off a future album recorded in Hamburg were unveiled as well. ‘Everything Is Falling Apart’ and ‘I’m More Inclined’ both went down well with the crowd, you could almost be forgiven for thinking they weren’t even new songs at all.

The acoustic-based tracks of their later years took precedence over their rockier tunes, which became the highlights of the night. Bandwagonesque anthem ‘The Concept’ garnered the heartiest singalong, before they closed the show with the melancholic B-side ‘Broken’. A sombre note to end on, but it goes to show that Teenage Fanclub aren’t afraid to enter their third decade on a fresh note.

Highlight: The operatic singalong for ‘The Concept’.

Lowlight: The absence of Gerard Love’s songwriting is sorely missed in their setlist.

Crowd Favourite: First single ‘Everything Flows’ still rocked the audience’s socks off.

By James Robertson