Manchester is home to many great bands such as Oasis and Joy Division. They’ve all taken to the biggest stages in the city, with Stone Roses playing the Etihad Stadium last summer. Now has come the time for Manchesters most current and talked about indie-rock band, The Courteeners, to grace the stage of Emirates Old Trafford Cricket ground.
This was possibly, one of the most hyped up gigs of the year in the indie music world. Tickets came on sale in October and a couple of months ago, the 50,000 capacity venue had sold out. Before we knew it, the day had arrived. I myself am not from Manchester so travelled on the train in the morning, and even at 11am my east midlands train was buzzing with Courteeners fans, blasting their songs. It was exciting. I was already surrounded by gig atmosphere before I had even arrived in the city.
We spent the afternoon in the city, before catching the Met to the cricket ground, which was a unique experience in itself. Manchester was thriving with the combination of a bank holiday and glorious weather. Almost every other person I walked past was quite clearly a Courteeners fan, either they were wearing their t-shirts or chanting their songs.
Around 4’o clock we went to catch the met from picadilly gardens. The queues were unbelievable and watching people cramming into the trams headed to Old Trafford was quite shocking. However, when it came to our turn to be herded on, the tram experience became one that was actually quite enjoyable. Every body on there was headed to the same place, and eveyone was excited as each other. People began belting out Courteeners songs and chants to show their appreciaction of their city. I had thought that, after the incident in Manchester, the atmosphere would maybe be different, perhaps somber. However, nothing was holding back the fans who had waited months to see thier favourite band in on of the greatest music cities in the world. Even the people of Manchester who weren’t attending the gig, exuded a joyous and infectious attitude.
Then, just when I thought the atmsophere couldn’t get anymore vibrant, we arrived at the venue. Police and security were stationed every 10 metres around the entire venue, making the 50,000 attendees feel safe and secure after the tragic event that had happened only days before. I did however, excpect thorough security check of which there were none, I walked straight in to the grounds being asked solely for my ticket.
The cricket ground was unreal, you can’t put into perspective how big 50,000 capacity is until your stood smack bang in the middle of it. People from all over the country, of all ages, gathered to witness the spectacle that was about to take place infront of their very eyes.
There were three support bands, the first called Cabbage, whom we didn’t pay much attention to. There music was good, but not memorable, and at this point I was still taking everything in. Second up on the line up was Blossoms, a band I was incredibly excited to see. They’re one of my favourite bands and after seeing them at Leadmill in Sheffield last year, I couldn’t wait to see them live again. They lived up to everything I excpected, the crowd was bouncing as they played all there most loved songs from ‘Honey Sweet’ to their hit single ‘Charlemagne’. A highlight of the event for me, was sitting on my friends shoulders for my favourite Blossoms song ‘My Favourite Room’, belting out the lyrics with all the other fans around me. Then, up third, were The Charlatans, who personally I think should have been second support as the crowd compared to Blossoms was non-existent. It went instantly from mosh-pits and crowdsurfers to somber and uninterested.
And finally, after hours of good music, dancing and booze the time had come for The Courteeners to grace the stage. Yet, frontman Liam Fray had a suprise in store. He came on stage, alone, and read a poem written by Ryan William in honour of the Manchester Attacks which ended with ‘This is Manchester, our Manchester, and the bees still buzz!’, leaving the crowd tearful
‘Are You in Love With a Notion?’ was the opening song, as everyone who knows anything about The Courteeners would excpect. The guitars kicked in, flares were set of and bodies hurled across the pit.
‘Cavorting’ and ‘Acrylic’ were amongst some of the biggest hits that they played throughout the night, sending the crowd into a frenzy of jumping and chanting. As the sun began to set, and the huge stage lights and pyros burned down on us, The Courteeners and their fans celebrated the true spirit of Manchester. It was only fitting that on the first weekend of Summer the band played the much loved track ‘Summer’ from their 2014 album ‘Concrete Love’. They also went on to play upbeat fan favourites such as ‘Sycophant’, ‘Bide Your Time’ and ‘Fallowfield Hillbilly’ that were bound to get the crowd moving.
After the tragic incident that happened in Manchester that week, Liam Fray took it upon himself to dedicate the next song to the vicitms of the attack, after a woman began singing it in Albert Square at the vigil. As he sang the first line of the well known Oasis song ‘Don’t Look Back In Anger’, the crowd went wild and joined him in singing every lyric from start to finish. The 50,00 sang so loud, that it was all that was talked about the next day on the news.
After the heartfelt performance, it was time to bring the show to an end and there are only two songs that are right for the job. The Courteeners broke into their most famous song ‘Not Nineteen Forever’ sending the audience wild, hurling themsleves around the venue. This was closely followed by ‘What Took You So Long?’, a song that has closed their shows for as long as any Courteeners fan can remember and it was the ideal finish to an unbelievably memorable night.