“Teenage Fanclub Kicks”
Written by Jason Reed
Inner Edge Music
Like many music lovers of my generation, I was lucky enough to have heard Teenage Fanclub’s “Bandwagonesque” when it was released in 1991 and it is an album that has left an indelible impression on my ears, mind and heart. Teenage Fanclub originated as part of the Glascow, Scotland, C86 scene (so named after an extremely influential compilation cassette released by NME magazine). Since those early years, the band has released an impressive ten albums and two compilation albums. The band has received some amazing critical endorsements, with Nirvana’s Curt Cobain citing the band as one of his favorites as well as Spin magazine naming “Bandwagonesque” the best album of 1991 (winning over Nirvana’s “Nevermind”, REM’s “Out of Time”, and My Bloody Valentine’s “Loveless”). Also, in February 1992 the band performed to American audiences on an episode of Saturday Night Live (SNL).
In addition to their well-established street cred from the past, the members have been quite busy in recent years. In his spare time, Francis manages fellow Glaswegians the Vaselines and Camera Obscura (both amazing bands that I’ve seen live) as well as released an album of classical music in 2016 entitled “Music For String Quartet, Piano and Celeste”. Norman Blake formed the two-person band Jonny with Euros Childs and more recently a Canadian supergroup called The New Mendicants (with Joe Pernice and Mike Belitsky). Gerard Love released his own solo album entitled “Electric Cables” in 2012. Dave McGowan and Raymond McGinley (performing in a folk group entitled Snowgoose) released their debut album in 2012.
Their most recent release entitled “Here” (released in September of 2016) is a beautiful album that has been received warmly by the music press.
It was with this background information and appreciation in mind that I eagerly drove to see them perform at the Teragram Ballroom in Los Angeles today. Although I had to forego much of the day’s St Patrick’s Day revelries, my delaying of gratification was well worth it as I was ultimately intoxicated by the musical imbibement that I was about to experience. I didn’t need to find a four-leaved clover today. I was lucky just to be in the audience of this impressive performance.
As if I wasn’t lucky enough, the audience was graced by the musical stylings of Britta Philips (of Luna) accompanied by her husband Dean Wareham (of Galaxie 500 and Luna fame). Britta’s set featured some lush instrumentation and evocative singing that the crowd jubilantly reacted to. I really like her sound and look forward to seeing her perform again in the future.
Once the headliners took the stage, things got rolling. Norman Blake was in good spirits, joking with the crowd in an affectionate manner. Quips ranged from statements such as “We’ll see if you say that in half an hour” when a seemingly inebriated fan yelled out “All Killer, No Filler!” Norman also pointed to a large neon restroom sign, questioning whether “rest” was really afforded to those who enter, commenting that such things don’t exist in the U.K. Bespecled Raymond McGinley’s guitar work was stellar, reminding me of Nels Cline (of Wilco) who I saw perform at the Fillmore (see review here). Gerard Love’s bass playing was fabulous. Lastly, Francis MacDonald’s relentless and perfectly timed banging of the skins rounded out the band’s sound.
Memorable moments from the performance include the band’s classic tracks such as “Everything Flows,” “The Concept” and “I Don’t Want To Hurt You,” amongst others. Newer songs such as “Hold On” and “Thin Air” off their latest album fit perfectly into the band’s canon of compelling tunes.There were indeed some magical moments when all the members of the band were on the same wavelength, harmonizing and playing their instruments in unison like a well oiled machine. The full setlist for the night was as follows:
I had the pleasure of chatting with a couple of the guys from the band prior to the show and you couldn’t meet nicer gentleman. They graciously signed my “Bandwagonesque” record and we briefly chatted about their upcoming concerts. I’m hoping to possibly interview them while they’re still on the West Coast so we’ll see if my luck continues or whether it was just confined to St. Patrick’s day!
For all things Teenage Fanclub related, check out www.teenagefanclub.com.
To stay updated on Britta and Dean’s future projects, check out www.deanandbritta.com.