[NOTE: This is the first post in my new Forgotten Concerts of 2017 series. As the show took place last March, I have relied heavily on the handwritten journal entry I wrote back then. In fact, I have pretty much copied it word-for-word. This post was published on January 12th, 2018, but I have altered the date so that it fits in chronologically.]
Tonight’s the night Teenage Fanclub plays at the Neptune Theatre. It’s a rainy morning and I’ve been up for about an hour. Coffee, madeleines, puffins, etc. I’m listening to Patty Duke. Nothing gets me ready for a rock concert like Patty Duke. It’s 8:32.
Beth got home at around 6:00. We ate junk food for dinner and got ready for the show. We headed off at 7:30, but stopped to get some cough drops on the way. The Neptune’s doors opened at 8:00 and we arrived ten or fifteen minutes after that. We still got front row balcony seats, though.
The opening act was Britta Phillips of the groups Dean & Britta and Luna. She played a 9-song set mixing covers with original songs from her new solo album, Luck or Magic. I thought she sounded a bit like Susanna Hoffs fronting the Velvet Underground. Her husband Dean Wareham played guitar in her 3-piece band. He helped out with some vocals, too. They’re a very attractive older rock-n-roll couple. I don’t know who I had a bigger crush on. Probably Dean…he’s got amazing hair. Either way, here’s the setlist:
Britta Phillips setlist: One Fine Summer Morning (Evie Sands) / Daydream / Fallin’ in Love (Dennis Wilson) / Million Dollar Doll / Ingrid Superstar / Night Nurse (Dean & Britta) / Tugboat (Galaxie 500) / I’ll Keep It With Mine (Bob Dylan) / Drive (the Cars)
The whole set was good. I was especially happy to hear Dean Wareham sing my favorite Galaxie 500 song. I also like how Britta Phillips started and ended her set with a ba-ba song. That’s how you do it.
Teenage Fanclub setlist: Start Again / Don’t Look Back / Hold On / I Don’t Want Control of You / Thin Air / Verisimilitude / It’s All in My Mind / The First Sight / About You / I Need Direction / The Darkest Part of the Night / Can’t Feel My Soul / Ain’t That Enough / I’m in Love / Sparky’s Dream / The Concept
Teenage Fanclub encore: I Was Beautiful When I Was Alive / Star Sign / Everything Flows
I’ll just get this out of the way: although Britta Phillips and her band sounded terrific, Teenage Fanclub’s sound was a bit murky in places with the vocals kind of overwhelmed by the guitars. Still, this didn’t detract too much from my enjoyment. Even with the sound issue, this was a great rock show. It combined many of Teenage Fanclub’s biggest songs with a half dozen tunes from their latest release, last year’s Here. It’s a tribute to the band’s consistency and the high quality of their songs that I really couldn’t tell what was new and what was old. And Beth seemed to like it a lot, too.
The highlight for me, of course, was “I Need Direction”. It’s my favorite Teenage Fanclub song and one of the quintessential ba-ba songs. It was great to hear it live. I was so jealous of the drummer who got to sing the ba-ba chorus. I wanted to be that guy for those four minutes. Other highlights included “The Concept”, “Start Again”, “Sparky’s Dream”, and “Star Sign”. I’d never really noticed until tonight, but most of my favorite Teenage Fanclub songs are sung by the bassist, Gerard Love. I always think of Norman Blake as the singer, but the songs are pretty evenly split between the three songwriters.
I should also mention “Can’t Feel My Soul” as a highlight. I’m not all that familiar with the song, but the fifth guy, the keyboardist, took a break on that song and that really helped the sound issues I mentioned earlier. The band sounded much better as a 4-piece.
The only song I didn’t care for was “I Was Beautiful When I Was Alive”. It was the first song Teenage Fanclub played during the encore and it was a complete mood killer. The song livened up at the end with the repeated “what are you gonna do about it?” part, but I noticed a lot of people checking their phones during the first few minutes of the song. Not a good choice for an encore.
[NOTE: My journal entry ends rather abruptly with a mangled sentence that I’m not going to include here. Instead, I’ll just say that this was a great show even if I did have a couple minor issues with the sound and song selection. I consider myself lucky any time I’m able to catch up with one of my Scottish bands. I never thought I’d get to see Teenage Fanclub in concert and I’m happy to be able to mark them off my list. I was also impressed with Britta Phillips and need to track down that album of hers.]