Teenage Fanclub Live – “I Was a Teenage Fanny”

…that’s what the t-shirts used to say, back in the day.

I know, because I was around back in the day, back when Teenage Fanclub‘s amazing 3rd album Bandwagonesque came out, back when Scotland’s best were on every shoegaze and pre-Britpop era indie rock compilation, back when then-drummer Brendan O’Hare was telling me shit jokes (“What do you call a dear with no eyes? “No idear.”) in interviews.

I last saw Teenage Fanclub on February 13, 1994. Back then, we were hanging out backstage at Lee’s Palace in Toronto, and I remember chatting with the lovely Norman Blake, kooky Brendan and Gerry Love. This is the press photo I was sent for my interview:

Teenage Fanclub in 1994

I have no idear why I haven’t seen them since. Teenage Fanclub’s breezy Scottish beachpop and harmonies, yummy guitars and triple-tradeoff on vocals between Raymond, Norman and Gerry
are really, really lovely.

Hence, the October 16 gig at Vancouver’sBiltmore Cabaret had me frothing with excitement, geekily playing seven albums in a row that day…and doing a few shots of Jager (and um, G&Ts) at the venue outta hyperness.

So imagine my implosion when I went round to sidestage while locals The Shilohs were playing, to find myself facing Raymond, Norman, drummer Francis MacDonald and keyboardist Dave McGowan who were watching their openers. I grabbed Norman to tell him how giddy I was to see them again. “Oh, well, then”, he said, smiling broadly, “I hope we play a good show for you!”

They did. “Start Again” from Songs from Northern Britain was a bit of weirdy one to errr, start with, but “Sometimes I Don’t Need to Believe In Anything”  was a reminder that new Teenage Fanclub (from the impeccable newest album Shadows) is just as dreamy as old.

And by the time they launched into a tripleplay of “Star Sign” (from Bandwagonesque), “Baby Lee” (one of the best tracks on Shadows) and “I Need Direction” (from Howdy!), we were all pretty smiley. So of course I had to heckle Norman when he joked that now that the band were in Canada they were going to do a song about another Lee, the bass player in Rush. “You should change the lyrics,” I blurted. “Maybe we should,” he laughed from. Thank you, Jagermonster.

“It’s our last night in North America,” Blake explained on stage. “We’re off to Japan tomorrow, so we’re going for a drink later.”

I took that to mean that I was invited.

‘Cos really, wouldn’t you go drinking with a bunch of Scots? Plus, they seemed keen to have us along…at least Norman seemed like he was. I sort of TOLD Gerry and Raymond that we were, by babbling at them. “We’re coming along with you for drinks. And you have no say in the matter, really.”

Thank you, Jagermonster.

But one problem:  the lads had to wrap up their kit to ship back to Toronto and get stuff ready for the longhaul to Japan. So it was taking an age, plus two extra years. And without a drink, me and Team Go Drinking With Teenage Fanclub were losing steam…plus did I mention I had bronchitis? So after teasing @FranMacdonald about tweeting (“Oh yeah,” he said, “You were the one who recommended where to go for sushi! I’m kinda, err, waiting for that in Japan.”), I went to slur my goodbyes and found myself alone in a tiny room of all five Teenage Fanclub members sitting down, while I stood in the middle of them…being tremendously uncool. “It was an honour and a pleasure”, I managed. And they all tittered…”Awwwww, thanks.” So I shook hands, gave hugs and headed home.

Hey, Teenage Fanclub? Sorry I was drunk and sick. It was good to have you back. \m/

Set List, Vancouver, October 16, 2010 at the Biltmore Cabaret:

  • Start Again
  • Sometimes I Don’t Need to Believe in Anything
  • The Past
  • It’s All In My Mind
  • Star Sign
  • Baby Lee
  • I Need Direction
  • About You
  • Don’t Look Back
  • I Don’t Want Control of You
  • Your Love is the Place
  • Ain’t That Enough
  • When I Still Have Thee
  • Sparky’s Dream
  • The Concept
  • Discolite
  • Can’t Feel My Soul
  • He’d Be a Diamond
  • Everything Flows

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