Everything is (not) falling apart: TEENAGE FANCLUB live

Norman Blake of Teenage Fanclub was quite chipper for a chap who’s just croaked through a set on the first night of his band’s three-and-a-half week North American tour. He’d managed quite well, thank you very much, yunno, despite the…laryngitis. Blake had picked up a weird throat infection thing he thinks he got in Japan in the first week of February, even had to get steroid shots in Australia, but felt like he’d “through the worst of it”. Still,”Alcoholiday” might have been too much for the ol’ chords, and it was noticeable in its absence from the setlist. But no matter, the rest of the time Blake kept himself to a manageable register, smiling and laughing every time he hit a frog note.

I handed 1/3 of a pack of my honey throat lozenges to him anyway…which got passed on to drummer Francis MacDonald, was also coming down with a cold.  We commiserated about viruses, caught up and compared drug store loyalty programs. Like he said on stage, “it’s good to be back in Canada, so I can use my P.C. Points card again.”

It was good to have Norman Blake back in Canada. He’d been away from his home in Ontario for a few months and talked with a twinkle in his eye about driving the van back home on his own once the run was over. There’ve been some big changes over the past months, too. Teenage Fanclub is now a five-piece with Dave McGowan (who also plays in Belle & Sebastian) on bass and Euros Childs (who also played in Gorky’s Zygotic Mynci and with Blake in Jonny), and recently wrapped recording a new album at Clouds Hill in Hamburg, of which “Everything is Falling Apart” is its new single. And while people may want to link the track to the departure of original TF founder, co-vocalist and bassist Gerard Love late last year, the Raymond McGinley-led song seems to be a straightforward nod to while the world is going to shit, there’s always love to see us through.

And ain’t that enough? Yep, during this set it was. Because a Teenage Fanclub set is a warm and super-comfy romp through all the things that make you smile. And wonderfully, the process seems to make Norman Blake smile, too, which is one of the things I loved most about TF: Norman Blake is almost always chipper. It’s positively life-giving. The set started with “About You”, brought in the new single around track 4, bopped through the oldie “Catholic Education”, tongue-tied into McGinley’s”Verisimilitude”, stayed positive for “Hold On” and “I’m in Love”, drifted into “Everything Flows” then finally ribbitted into essential classic “The Concept.” Ooooohhhhh-ohhhhh yeah.

Despite Blake’s voice falling apart, everything else in Teenage Fanclub-land was sounding just fine. See you on the boat, boys.\m/

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