The Courteeners - 53 Degrees Preston - 16.1.08

The new year has only just begun and its nigh on impossible to escape the hype that's surrounding the Courteeners. You cant turn on your radio or read a music mag without being bombarded with platitudes of them being ones to watch, tipped for the top and best new band of 2008. Frontman Liam Fray in a previous incarnation was a solo sensitive singer songwriter so he's no slouch in being the lead singer in a indie rock band and the venue is sold out with a predominantly male percentage of the crowd, unsurprisingly given that they are something of a lads band.

When the Courteeners perform the fans loyalty and dedication is never in doubt singing back the lyrics to the band in a football terrace fashion. Bearded Fray isn't the most loquacious of frontmen but the crowd hang on to his every word. While at such an early stage of their career the band are struggling to find their own distinctive, inimitable sound they have the anthemic melodies reminiscent of vintage Stone Roses and the fast paced sleazy rock of the Libertines, at times a sly nod to the Smiths.

Frays vocal at times unremarkable and pedestrian does bear slight likeness to Julian Cope. Lyrically the songs are confessional with poetical flourish but on occasion appear as little more than third rate Alex Turner's discarded lyrics.

"Not Nineteen Forever" has real heart and soul and is a vast improvement on a few of their other generic indie tunes they churn out tonight. "Slow Down", the B-side shows real promise with some great riffs and New single "What Took You So Long?" is a real stab at commercial success with a chorus naggingly catchy and guitars like a more polished Wedding Present.

At just over the forty minute mark and no encore Designer Magazine can see real potential in The Courteeners but they're really got to write some killer tunes and find their own identity. Even some of the fans aren't overcome with joy either. I overheard one of them say "it was alright but not as good as the Ritz". Maybe this wasn't the best gig the band have ever played, but you cant help but feel that at this moment they are a good band rather than a great band

Nicholas Paul Godkin

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