Published Sep 01, 2005There are no real surprises when it comes to seeing steadfast Scotsmen Teenage Fanclub play live. There are no pyrotechnics, interesting art films flashing in the background, scissor kicks, windmills or potty mouth. But in their 16-year career, Scotland's most beloved pop song-smiths have always managed to put a smile on your face at one of their shows no matter how dreadful your day has been. When they last played Toronto at the Opera House in 2001, the Fannies put on a perfect show for faithful and fair-weather fans alike. Supporting their new Merge Records album, Man-Made, the fab four (featuring original drummer Francis McDonald again) came back to T.O. with a lot of long-time supporters waiting to see their power pop heroes for the first time in four years. Hardly changing over the years (Raymond McGinley's long grey mop being the only alteration), the Fannies delivered what the fans wanted: a set filled with past favourites with a complementary smidge of the new album. Opening with Grand Prix's classic "About You," McGinley, Norman Blake and Gerard Love did their thing for two hours, switching lead singing roles and pumping out tunes from six of their seven proper albums to a passionate and bubbly audience. Blake's perma-smile was communicable, as he took the role as mouthpiece, which resulted in little chitchat. But the band let their fuzzy pop songs do the talking through such genial numbers as "I Need Direction," "Don't Look Back," "Did I Say" and new one "It's All In My Mind," and you could tell from the beaming faces and participating co-singers in the crowd that this was the preferred form of communication. Closing with the gloriously nostalgic near-hit "The Concept" proved just how long these popsters have been at it for and how magnificent and timeless their canon of music really is.