One year on from the release of Courteeners’ fifth studio album ‘Mapping the Rendezvous’, frontman Liam Fray has embarked on a solo tour around the UK.
Armed with only a guitar and supported by the band’s pianist Adam Payne along with a stunning strings section in the latter stages of the set, the result differs from the usual room-shaking shows – but that is no criticism.
The product is a more intimate, personal show that gives a different perspective on those five album’s worth of songs.
It also allows Fray to give an airing to some numbers that are maybe unsuitable for Heaton Park or Old Trafford Cricket Ground, and he took that opportunity with beautiful performances of ‘Finest Hour’ and ‘Lullaby’.
Fray opened with one of the band’s earliest offerings, ‘How Come’ from Courteeners’ breakthrough album ‘St Jude’, and – fittingly for a show in his backyard – treated fans to an acoustic rendition of ‘Hometown One’ in the early stages.
The reaction to that particular song demonstrated further what was clear for all to see, that the audience treasure the Middletonian as one of their own.
As the string section were introduced, the performance took on a different tone as the added components allowed for powerful renditions of ‘International’, ‘Modern Love’ and one of the highlights of ‘Mapping the Rendezvous’: the quirky, hypnotic, track ‘The 17th ’.
Fray’s first encore featured a performance of ‘Cross My Heart and Hope to Fly’, a song often unfairly overlooked when people think of Courteeners, and also included Fray cleverly sewing Pulp’s ‘Disco 2000’ onto the beginning of the anthem synonymous with the band: ‘Not Nineteen Forever’.
He briefly left the stage, but his fans who had been chanting the tune of ‘What Took You So Long’ since 8 o’clock were not to be denied as he returned to finish the set with the crowd favourite.
Earlier, support act Carnival Club were impressive and certainly one to watch for the future as they bid to add their name to the long list of celebrated Mancunian bands.
The night, however, was all about the combination of Fray and Payne as they yet again showed why they are two of Manchester’s most loved artists.