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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, March 31, 2017 - Volume 45 Issue 13
Scotland's Teenage Fanclub
Arts & Entertainment
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Scotland's Teenage Fanclub

by Jerry Peerson - SGN Contributing Writer

TEENAGE FANCLUB
NEPTUNE THEATRE
March 24


For nearly 30 years, Scotland's Teenage Fanclub has churned out power pop earworms for their devoted, almost cult-like fan base to bop around and sing along to.

Like most bands that have been able to persevere for multiple decades, Teenage Fanclub has faced its share of challenges, including navigating the ups and downs of commercial success and enduring lineup changes. Perhaps the key to their longevity can be attributed to the seemingly seamless sharing of lead singing and songwriting roles from the founding member trio of Norman Blake (guitar), Raymond McGinley (lead guitar), and Gerard Love (bass). Though they write and sing lead on their own compositions, the three have continuously crafted timeless tunes that sound harmonious and whole, rather than reflecting any singular influence.

The thick aroma of lobby popcorn (and booze) wafted through the air as the Glaswegian quintet bearing one of the choicest names in modern rock history appeared onstage at Seattle's historic, 95-year-old Neptune Theatre. TFC, as fans affectionately know them, looked eternally cool donning mostly dark tones when breaking into their opening number, 'Start Again from 1997's Songs from Northern Britain album. The triumphant sounding, mid-tempo Blake composition featured tight harmonies from Love, a blistering guitar solo from McGinley, and had the diverse, perhaps slightly greying audience bouncing on their feet.

Drummer Francis Macdonald's vocals during the chorus of the second selection, Love's 'Don't Look Back' from 1995's Grand Prix, completed a lush four-part harmony reminiscent of influences, the Byrds and the Beach Boys. Next, it was McGinley's turn on lead vocals. Standing stoically, he softly crooned 'I don't hear much fanfare for the common man these days' on his poignant piece 'Hold On' from the group's most recent and critically acclaimed release, Here.

With his charming Scottish accent, the 51-year-old Blake (who acted as spokesman for the band) graciously thanked the crowd between numbers. He recalled, 'It's been six years since playing in Seattle,' and stated 'We're here to promote a new album, Here' which the audience applauded, suggesting their approval of the record.

The group's egalitarian model remained constant throughout the night with Blake, Love and McGinley trading singing roles and plucking song choices from six of ten Teenage Fanclub albums. A still youthful looking 49-year-old Gerard Love had fans fist pumping and belting out the words to 'Sparky's Dream,' and on McGinley's rocking 'Can't Feel My Soul,' Blake excitedly swapped out his guitar for a turn on keyboards. During Norman's 'Darkest Part of the Night' it became especially evident that along with TFC's captivating melodies and lush harmonies, understated lock-tight strumming patterns are also an integral part of their signature sound.

Just before the set closer, Blake revealed his humorous side joking 'We know there's good stuff of TV on a Friday: 'Dancing with Stars,' 'Antique Roadshow,' so we're glad that you chose us!' Seconds later he strummed the first chord of 'The Concept,' an anthemic song from the band's 1991 breakthrough album Bandwagonesque, arguably TFC's most recognizable and beloved. Even before finishing the opening vocal line: 'She wears denim wherever she goes,' the audience was already enthusiastically singing along.

Teenage Fanclub are remarkably consistent - consistent at concocting mini-pop masterpieces and as steadfast as their steady strumming. They will probably never be referred to as groundbreaking or ever-evolving - a la Radiohead - but who cares, their timeless music already has and should continue to stand the test of time.

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