Teenage Fanclub , Koko, London

Koko, London

"We've got a new prime minister since we last played," says Teenage Fanclub's bespectacled and beaming Norman Blake, acknowledging the decreasing frequency with which his band play. "We met Gordon Brown once, in Inverness. He told us he liked Big Star. I think he'd been briefed."

Like New Labour, Teenage Fanclub have changed a little, too. The three songwriters at the front of the stage now resemble nothing so much as a trio of slightly trendy history teachers at a go-ahead comprehensive, particularly guitarist Raymond McGinley, with his greying, receding hairline, and sensible shirt and trousers.

Their audience's level of affection for them, however, remains constant. Band and crowd have grown up together, and as all have aged, the focus of the songs has changed from drunken rowdyism, through youthful relationships, to settling down and, maybe marking them as the true mortgage-rock band, moving house from the city to the country.

The quality of the melodies, too, is unchanged. And, though the show starts in sedate fashion, it takes just four songs for the first attempts at middle-aged moshing at the front to begin. By the glorious mid-set run of non-hits - Mellow Doubt, Ain't That Enough, Neil Jung and I Need Direction - the group have forgotten their initial restraint, and the performance begins to fly. Unusually for a rock show, the old songs do not feel like a concession to crowd-pleasing nostalgia, more a wistful recognition of the changing lives of all in the room.

After a version of Sparky's Dream that leaves one wondering why its parent album, 1995's Grand Prix, never propelled Teenage Fanclub to the top flight of British rock, the band retire to, Blake claims, "do some lines with Sir Paul McCartney". They're back in seconds, with a delicious old B-side, Broken, the first of five encores, before they let the audience return to adulthood, and their babysitters.

Contributor

Michael Hann

The GuardianTramp

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