There was already plenty of anticipation for this gig before the tragic events at Manchester Arena just days before. However, with the feelings of pain, heartache and anger caused by this unforgivable act of terrorism still running through the city, Manchester needed something to lift everybody’s spirits. This came in the shape of The Courteeners, playing to a sold out Emirates Old Trafford of 50,000.
The city was buzzing all day with people travelling in from various different areas of the UK, and despite the day being a logistical nightmare in terms of the venue’s preparation to deal with the amount of fans showing up on the day, the bands and the crowd were on top form.
The whole event had a local feel to it, with Tameside’s Cabbage and Stockport’s Blossoms filling the first two support slots on the big stage. If you were lucky enough to avoid the 1-2 hour queues for drinks, food and toilets then you may have also enjoyed The Charlatans, as Tim Burgess and co graced the cricket ground with their presence as the final warm up act for the main band, playing hits both old and new.
The crowd were eagerly awaiting the arrival of The Courteeners, and instead of the usual grand entrance lead singer Liam Fray walked out alone to once again read out the Manchester poem by Ryan Williams – this time however, in the city itself. The reaction was as you’d expect from a crowd of 50,000 in Manchester, and a fitting way to start the show.
Fray left the stage and re-entered to the familiar sound of Morning Glory by Oasis, this time accompanied by the rest of the band. Will they or won’t they open with Are You in Love With a Notion, many questioned before the gig. The band had kicked off both of the warm up shows in Halifax and Sheffield with Falcon’s opening track The Opener, but it was back to normality at Old Trafford.
The setlist was something to behold for Courteeners’ fans at the band’s biggest headline show to date. Notion into Cavorting into Acrylic. The big return of Concrete Love track Summer was great to see, as the hit crept back into the setlist for the warm up shows following its post-Cuppello exile period.
Obviously you can never please everybody, but there can’t have been many grumbles with the setlist choice for the big night. Hits from all of the albums, ranging from the classic Bide your Time and Please Don’t to the more recent fan favourites like Small Bones and Modern Love.
Undoubtedly the song choice of the night was Fray’s acoustic cover of Don’t Look Back in Anger. The song has been more meaningful than ever in the wake of recent events, highlighted with masses of people breaking into song in the city centre shortly after the attack. Using his platform wisely, the Courteeners frontman had everybody in full voice once again singing the classic Oasis hit.
It paved the way nicely for the set finale, which ended with the usual formula of Not Nineteen Forever into What Took You So Long. The party wasn’t over after that either, well not for one married couple anyway. Many struggling to leave the cricket ground were treated to the famous newly weds post-gig celebrations in the stand on the way out. 67 tickets well purchased I’d say!
It was an outstanding gig and certainly one to remember for all involved. The same venue will play host to tomorrow’s One Love all-star benefit concert, as we continue to stand together for Manchester!
Best Song? Don’t Look Back in Anger (Oasis cover)