There are artists with devout, cult followings in their local area, and then there’s the Courteeners. Alternating between Heaton Park and Old Trafford Cricket Ground, the band returned to the latter for their customary outdoor Manchester show that seems to happen every few years, as they once again proved why they have reached such heights in their great city.
Despite last year’s release ‘More. Again. Forever.’ their setlist has remained roughly unaltered for a number of years; it is truly difficult to imagine ‘Are You In Love With A Notion?’ anywhere than at the start. The crowd was instantly raucous, with sing-alongs drowning out Liam Fray and his band that could have definitely benefited from a little more volume.
The triple screen layout that overlooked a magnificent Old Trafford added a majestic atmosphere to the gig, as Courteeners firmly cemented their status as a headline act — and no less — which was reinforced by their debut major headline slot at Glasgow’s TRNSMT two weeks prior. With Oasis, The Stone Roses and The Smiths now in ruins, Courteeners have been Manchester’s biggest band for some time now, now rivalled only by Liam Gallagher’s resurgent solo career.
The inevitable climax of ‘Not Nineteen Forever’ after a few acoustic numbers was refreshing, with the band packing their hits into the top and tail end of the set — a distribution that perhaps only Manchester could accommodate, with the crowd still knowing every word to deeper cuts like ‘Fallowfield Hillbilly’ and ‘Lose Control.’
It begs the question of if, after their fourth major outdoor show in Manchester, Courteeners will ever make the jump to the likes of Reading and Leeds headliners, or outgrow O2 Academies in the south. However, they will certainly be welcomed back with open arms in their glorious city for many years to come.