Gig review: The Courteeners at O2 Academy Leeds

Liam Fray of The Courteeners. Picture: Hannah Woollaston
Liam Fray of The Courteeners. Picture: Hannah Woollaston
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On Thursday night, The Courteeners embarked on the first of two special warm up gigs before playing what will be the biggest gig of their lives on Friday at Manchester’s Heaton Park.

The gig took place at Leeds O2 Academy and at 7.30pm the anticipation was high as 2,500 eager fans piled into the venue.

First up were Manchester quartet Louie Louie and they provided the perfect start to the night that was to come, swiftly followed by male solo artist Liam Frost who brings something different to the table with his chilled rock ’n’ roll vibe.

At 9.20pm the Academy plunges into darkness as Oasis’ track Morning Glory shakes the venue to its core and The Courteeners make their way on to stage, led by frontman Liam Fray. The crowd immediately react with a greeting of beer and mosh pits as the band start on crowd favourite Are You In Love With A Notion?

It soon becomes obvious that tonight isn’t going to be a stand-and-nod-your-head gig, as Adidas trainers and bucket hats are already a wash over the barrier as The Courteeners cruise into the second song of the evening Cavorting. It’s a song that all good Courteeners fan love and it’s met with all the usual antics of a Courteeners gig.

With a brief “hello Leeds” they carry on with the set and play Summer, it’s a song off the most recent album but is just as well received as the band’s older material. For a moment Fray disappears into the abyss as he walks along the barrier singing Please Don’t. A few more chaotic songs whiz by and Fray takes the time to thank the Leeds crowd, claiming: “You’ve always been a home gig for us, you treat us well, Leeds.”

The rest of the band make their way off stage, leaving their frontman standing solo to play Smith’s Disco and it’s a surreal feeling as this once rowdy, uncontrollable crowd now stand side-by-side, captivated by Fray.

After a lengthy, 17-song set the band leave stage for an encore break but nor the crowd or band show any signs of flagging as they soon return to some more songs for the lively Leeds crowd.

Not Nineteen Forever ensures “mad scenes” – even across the balcony, where not one person is sat in their seat despite the obvious pleas from security.

Often The Courteeners get labelled as “lad rock”, however it’s not just lairy football fans here tonight, the crowd is made up of people from all walks of life. Even though the crowd couldn’t get much more enthusiastic, it’s not lairiness, it’s seemingly a lot of love for the band on stage.

The final song of the evening, What Took You So Long, rounds the night off with a bang. With a final thanks from the band, they make their way off stage, ready to take on Heaton Park later this week.

Gig date: June 2