October 11, 2010
El Rey, Los Angeles
Blake, McGinley & Love doesn’t have the same ring as Crosby, Stills & Nash, but there’s no reason why they shouldn’t be held in the same breath or as widely known. These three Scotsman and the outfit they’ve steered for the last 20+ years have consistently made albums that rich in harmonies and heart-on-sleeve emotions. If Teenage Fanclub had a spiritual home, it would be a tie between Nashville or Los Angeles, or perhaps started in Los Angeles and ended up in Nashville (as found on their most recent album Shadows [review]).
There were several points in Teenage Fanclub’s show at the El Rey in Los Angeles (their first LA show in 9 years, one fan seemed intent on reminding us) where the melodies were just too much. They fell too cleanly, too easily, too perfectly for these songs not to be part of the common consciousness. Looking back at Crosby, Stills & Nash and what did they have? Did they have “Don’t Look Back”? Did they have “The Concept”? Did They Have “Your Love Is The Place Where I Come From”? No. They had “Our House” and a gargantuan drug habit.
Given such a long absence between tours and albums, a sizeable crowd were in attendance. Amongst the Teenage Fanclub tshirt-wearing fans, English/Scottish transplants, ageing hipsters, Japanese fans and silver foxes. It was a mixed bag in the broadest of sense which make Teenage Fanclub even more inspiring. Here is a band that anybody could take something from. Rolling out “Start Again” from 1997’s Songs From Northern Britain, Norman and Co. built set momentum song to song, giving space to new tracks without it dominating the show. The run from “Star Sign” to “Baby Lee” to “I Need Direction” was perfection.
Always in good spirits, the mood onstage matched that of the audience, and the song selections from their 9 album back catalogue (Thirteen being strangely overlooked) covered all favourites, including a rare outing of Grand Prix‘s “Discolite”. Recently appearing as poster inspiration at Matador’s at 21 Birthday celebrations, the finale of “Everything Flows” and its “I don’t know which way to flow/Set a course that I don’t know” seemed to typify a time where us Gen X types were aimlessly walking through life (some of us still are). Teenage Fanclub may be older, their new songs a little less freewheeling, but they’ve stayed true to their course.