Teenage Fanclub | Festival In The City, Glasgow

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For more than a decade, Glasgow's Teenage Fanclub have been the kind of band that grown men quietly obsess over; it's no wonder that High Fidelity author Nick Hornby is a fan. Cast adrift by the recent demise of Creation Records, the group are now with Columbia; their sixth album, Howdy!, is due in October. Like its predecessors, the record is chock full of wistful, whistler-friendly pop songs. Fitting, then, that industry insiders describe the Fannies as the "proto-Travis".

For more than a decade, Glasgow's Teenage Fanclub have been the kind of band that grown men quietly obsess over; it's no wonder that High Fidelity author Nick Hornby is a fan. Cast adrift by the recent demise of Creation Records, the group are now with Columbia; their sixth album, Howdy!, is due in October. Like its predecessors, the record is chock full of wistful, whistler-friendly pop songs. Fitting, then, that industry insiders describe the Fannies as the "proto-Travis".

Tonight, they played in Radio One's Big Top tent, about an hour before Oasis headlined on the main stage. Contrasting the two bands' approaches was illuminating. While Liam and Co, now limping from gig to gig, were mostly all gong and no dinner, the Fannies - five ordinary Joes in T-shirts - gave the kind of matey, steadfast and unassuming performance for which they are rightly cherished. Safe? Yes. Predictable? That, too. But when their Byrdsian vocal harmonies kicked in on "Ain't That Enough", it scarcely mattered.

Where the new album was concerned, they tested the water only twice. "The Sun Shines From You", written and sung by Raymond McGinley, had a guitar riff reminiscent of early XTC. It sounded under-rehearsed, and given that there are stronger songs on Howdy!, its inclusion was somewhat surprising. The forthcoming single "I Need Direction" was much better; one punter was even moved to shout "gaun yersel!" as the Duane Eddy-esque guitar solo twanged past. Bassist Gerard Love sang lead, while "stormin" Norman Blake iced the cake with his breezy falsetto. The song deserves to chart, and with Columbia's backing, it just might.

Though, technically, the Fannies have three front-men, it's Norman who takes care of the repartee. He took great pleasure in telling us all about his new glockenspiel-stand, and claimed that one song was about Hank Marvin. Towards the end, wanting to see who Fanclub's fanclub were these days, he asked for the house lights. The technician responded, and there we were: a thousand or so ordinary-Joes/Jennys in T-shirts.

They closed, as they've done for years, with "The Concept", a golden oldie from 1991's Bandwagonesque. As its chugging, fuzz-box riff joined the dots between Big Star and Neil Young, Blake's vocal sounded as fresh and gung-ho as when he first recorded it. Stormin' Norman, indeed.

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