Published Sep 24, 2010Everyone has at least one band like Teenage Fanclub on their iPod: the kind of group whose plentiful back catalogue is so stocked with great material ("hits" need not apply) that no single album or playlist will suffice. You want everything. So seeing a group like Teenage Fanclub — even if they are your favourite band — can be a bit disappointing. They're bound to miss something you love, and when you love them this much, it's hard not to take it personally.
The Scottish five-piece (main songwriters Norman Blake, Raymond McGinley and Gerard Love, backed by drummer Francis MacDonald and a touring keyboardist/guitarists) took Toronto's Horseshoe stage for the second of two nights looking as if they've been playing music together for over 20 years. Their greying and thinning hair stood in stark contrast to the sun-kissed melodies of opener "It's All in My Mind." After taking a moment to quietly introduce themselves ("We're Teenage Fanclub from Scotland"), they delivered a nicely beefed-up version of "Sometimes I Don't Need to Believe in Anything" from the just-released Shadows. The song set a pattern for the night, where the band looked and sounded most electrified when McGinley and Blake's guitars were set to overdrive; Bandwagonesque's "Alcoholiday" sounded exquisite while "Star Sign" lagged at times.
Just because the band sounded a little tamer than their fuzzed-out shoegazing early days doesn't mean that the gig was a bust, though; their vocal harmonies were, as always, note perfect and carried songs like "Mellow Doubt" and "Your Love Is the Place Where I Come From." Predictably, there were many cries from the crowd for individual favourites, but they went unanswered. The set ended with a bang as the band dropped "Sparky's Dream" from the often overlooked Grand Prix and "Everything Flows" from their debut.
Teenage Fanclub returned after a brief respite for an oddly paced encore where the band seemed to be playing for themselves rather than the crowd. It included a pair of tracks from the nearly forgotten Howdy before ending with epic "The Concept." You could easily make a list of gems they opted to not play, but given their longevity and depth of material, Teenage Fanclub did a fantastic job of hitting the right notes with fans. It's a testament to the band not just that they can still do it, but that they actually still want to.