Taronga Zoo, 13/03/17
Photos by Cathi Margherita
It was all too fitting to review a Scottish band. Having just flown home from Edinburgh I was already missing the black pudding, pub-rock and everybody’s favourite sea-serpent, Nessy.
Despite becoming familiar with the local customs (heavy drinking at Hogmanay being one), Teenage Fanclub were a band I hadn’t heard too much about, but when you’re offered Twilight at Taronga tickets you pounce on them like a Scottish Terrier on dropped haggis. Especially if you’ve never seen the sun set behind the Harbour Bridge with a live soundtrack.
On that note, as far as setups go, the Twilight at Taronga setting is unrivalled. I imagine watching a primary school band going through their second rehearsal would be beautiful. But that wasn’t the case. Teenage Fanclub sit at the other end of the spectrum. Forming 28 years ago, the five piece are as well drilled as alternative rock bands go, having flown the banner through tons of trends all while influencing local and international acts along the way.
As ready as I was for the Scottish accent, it was The Goon Sax who opened the night. The three piece from Brisbane have that Aussie blasé, sombre storytelling sound that acts like Courtney Barnett or to a louder extent, The Smith Street Band are known for. They took turns on vocals and even shuffled their instruments around to tell tales of love, loss and days in bed that last forever. They were an odd match to support Teenage Fanclub, but a refreshing one at that, and got a rousing applause from an older crowd that I’m sure had no idea who they were.
After an intermission that included some expensive Caronas and cheese, we were hit with indie-pop vibes that were contagious from the get-go. For many it was the first time ever hearing the songs they grew up on, to the point that the older crowd were using the chorus sing-alongs as their time machine. No word of a lie, I must’ve heard “I remember when Teenage Fanclub…” at least three times. Yet there wasn’t too much onus on reminiscing, a lot of the night was made up of new tracks. Their latest record, Here was released just year and reached a surprising #10 on the UK album charts. Unlike many other groups their age, Teenage Club proved they weren’t touring on the success of yesteryears. Newest single, ‘I Was Beautiful When I Was Alive’ was one of the most well received tracks of the night.
It was the UK banter that was also noteworthy throughout the night. With the band chatting in between songs and bouncing back and forth with the audience who would request hits from their back-back catalogue.
As much as I miss Scotland, Teenage Fanclub took me back, be it for just over an hour.