Rhian Daly reports on The Courteeners – Barfly, Cambridge 29 January 2008

The Courteeners


Tentatively opening the show tonight is Daniel Flay and the Irreparable Guilt, presenting twee boy/girl vocals mixed with a heavier punk aesthetic, who create an interesting sound that would make the Irreparable Guilt a superb start to the evening if only they had a bit more confidence.

Vincent Vincent & the Villains bring their brand of 50s inspired rock’n’roll next, with lead singer, Vincent Vincent, stepping on stage looking like a Lupus suffering matador. The next thirty minutes contains some fine tunes, with a set featuring the irresistible Blue Boy, the effortlessly catchy On My Own and new single, Pretty Girl.

In contrast to the first band of the night, the last have more than their fair share of confidence, swaggering on stage with an infectious self-assurance and even more infectious songs. Kicking off with Kokaine Kim, the crowd is slow to respond to Manchester’s latest batch of talent. But by the time Liam Fray is raising his mouth organ to his lips in Please Don’t a few songs later, the sold out Barfly is up for a party. Fallowfield Hillbilly, No You Didn’t and former single Acrylic all get the audience jumping, proving that, whilst the media hype surrounding this group is perhaps a little overblown, it is still totally deserved for the most part. The Courteeners are Arctic Monkeys with a smile, working class could-be-heroes singing about girls, groupies and scenesters, and a band that seemingly wears its influences on its sleeves if the lyrics are anything to go by. Fellow Mancurian natives, The Smiths are referenced both subtly and explicitly (Fallowfield Hillbilly, What Took You So Long?), whilst the Libertines-covered Kill City track Hooligans On E is name checked in debut single Cavorting. Whilst these lyrical hints are clever and, for the most part, not obvious straight away, others veer more towards the laughably mundane (notably What Took You So Long?’s 'queue at the post office' chorus). Nevertheless, The Courteeners prove far more entertaining than expected and have clearly won the hearts of those in attendance tonight.

Writer: Rhian Daly