The Coral - Manchester Apollo - 26.11.03

Last time I saw the Coral live in Manchester they played an extended 20 minute jam slap bang in the middle of "Goodbye". Nothing out the ordinary there then except this time it was live on Radio 1 going out to a few million people with the producer tearing his hair out on the side of the stage wondering what the f*ck he was going to with these Scouse tw*ts. The Coral are a band who don't give a f**k about the conventions of the music industry and as we make our way down to tonight's sold out gig at the Apollo the band have just announced they're to release a 11 track album "Nightfreaks And The Sons Of Becker" in January simply cos they can.

Unlike Manchester where the scene seems to be disparate and looking for direction at present, the Liverpool sound is clearly defined and no more so than the Coral at the figurehead. Already bands such as the Bandits, Zutons and the Hokum Clones have broken through and now bands such as 28 Costumes are filtering through as a band to look out for. It's easy to see why the band are such a dominating force - the ability to switch between sweetly sung ballads such as "Simon Diamond" and Liza" and the apocalyptic ending to tonight's show keeps the audience guessing as to what comes next. Not that it's a case of the unfamiliar throughout as the singles "Goodbye", "Don't Think You're The First" and "Dreaming It On" provide the instant pop rush we're in need of. Whereas some bands find the leap between the midsize venues to the Theatre tours, the Coral have taken it with ease foregoing use of elaborate effects for glorious use of lighting which creates a psychedelic spree of light and silhouettes across the backdrop. It's almost taking it back to the first days of television where bands simply had a £20 budget to create the best performance they could and excelled through sheer perseverance. The Coral survive not through sheer perseverance, but through the sheer quality of the songs on display which make for a show without peaks and troughs - just one permanent high.

It's taken us a while to realize just how blindingly brilliant the Coral are and maybe that's down to that lack of overblown statements. Interviews are laden with smoky meanderings and weed fuelled philosophy and it's easy to forget that while they're out of sight more often or not you'll find them working in the studio on a batch of new tracks. With work starting on the third album proper in the new year the Coral are shaping up to deliver 4 albums in just over 2 years as well as touring the country endlessly. If only the rest of the industry had this work ethic maybe we could have an industry that relies on real talent rather than quick fixes of Pop Idol for a cash injection.

Alex McCann

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