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Teenage Fanclub, The Limelight, Belfast, 30th January 2003

Teenage Fanclub (Norman Blake, Gerry Love & Raymond McGinley) are one of a small handful of guitar bands that have survived the '90's and are still thriving in this new century. Regular as clockwork, they release an album every 2 years, tour and then disappear. This is not the sort of band you are likely to read about in the tabloids. They are about the music and that is all - and what damn fine music it is!

The sheer number of excited faces crammed into The Limelight is testament to the appeal Teenage Fanclub - affectionately nicknamed The Fannies - still hold. Opening with the slacker classic 'Everything flows', the crowd gleefully sang along, hands rose into the air, hips swayed and bums wiggled. Unfortunately sound problems plagued the band for much of the night. This did noticeably irritate the band at times, but, on the whole, they looked relaxed and happy with the warm reception they were receiving.

Playing songs mainly from their recent best of collection, the setlist was a journey through the highlights of their career. Personally, the song of the night was 'What you do to me', which originally featured on their breakthrough "Bandwagonesque" album. To be honest, I had never been particularly keen on this track, but when I heard it live, it was quite simply 3 minutes of the finest pop music I have heard in years! Sounding punchy and even a little punky, it seemed to please a lot of the older fans. The three new songs (one by each member of course) were also played to moderate applause, but, as these tracks had only been released four days previous, it seemed most of the audience was not yet familiar with them.

After a five-minute break, the band once again took to the stage, and following a rather lacklustre version of 'Planets' by McGinley, they played probably their most famous tracks - 'Sparky's dream' and the timeless 'The Concept'. The former sounded as beautiful and joyous as ever and, for me, immediately brought back memories of the mid-nineties and their most successful album "Grand Prix". Then came 'The Concept'. Simply breathtaking; an awe-inspiring nugget of pure joyous melody. We sang, we swooned, we swayed and we saluted. I get the impression this band is here to stay. They are not going to disappear with the next music trend, nor will they implode in scenes of rock n' roll debauchery. They will be round for years, quietly ploughing out melodic nuggets of pop and for that we love them!

Graham Smith.

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