On June 8th, a cryptic billboard appeared with the Courteeners’ iconic lyric ‘God Bless the Band’ and the date ‘25.09.21’. That evening, the band confirmed a huge homecoming show, returning to play at Emirates Old Trafford cricket ground four years on from their 2017 performance at the same venue. Now that day has finally arrived, with Courteeners set to play in front of a 50,000 strong crowd tonight!
The last time the Middleton band played at Emirates Old Trafford, it was in the wake of the tragic events at Manchester Arena. Fray entered the stage before the set to perform Ryan Williams’ ‘And the Beez Still Buzz’ poem, before dedicating a cover of Oasis’ classic hit, ‘Don’t Look Back in Anger’ to the solidarity shown in the city following the terror attack. It will go down as one of Courteeners’ biggest and most impactful live shows, in what was an incredibly emotional evening in Manchester.
Today they return for another of their famous hometown dates, now expected biennially from fans. In the run up to today’s event, there were concerns surrounding news of a tram strike, with Manchester Metrolink drivers voting to strike over a pay dispute. However, that was called off earlier this week thanks to an improved pay offer, so fans can rest assured of minimal travel disruption on the day. Another concern was the gig clashing with Manchester United’s home game against Aston Villa, however this game has now been moved to a 12:30pm kick off.
So what can we expect from the gig itself? The support is as strong as we’ve come to expect from the big outdoor Courteeners shows. The Smiths’ icon, Johnny Marr will perform just after Blossoms, who will be on a high off the back of a huge sold out Manchester Arena gig last weekend. The Big Moon will open the day after Zuzu pulled out due to operational issues. Stage times are as follows.
16:30 – Gates
17:00 – The Big Moon
18:00 – Blossoms
19:10 – Johnny Marr
20:45 – Courteeners
Courteeners have played a run of warm up shows in the lead-up to today, as well as a headline set at TRNSMT Festival in Glasgow. So what can we expect from the setlist after the eagerly anticipated ‘Morning Glory’ entrance? Frontman, Liam Fray previously suggested he was tempted to open sets with ‘Heart Attack’, the opening track from their latest album ‘More. Again. Forever’. However, fans will be pleased to know that the traditional opener, ‘Are You In Love with a Notion’ has been used for every 2021 set so far.
You can be fairly certain that ‘The Opener’ will feature today, as it returned to the setlist this week and is all about Fray’s love for his home city. Early hits ‘Cavorting’, ‘Acrylic’ and ‘Please Don’t’ all look set to feature, along with the staple closing sequence of ‘Not Nineteen Forever’ into ‘What Took You So Long?’, but there was no space for ‘Bide Your Time’ in Halifax and Hanley this week. Fan favourite ‘Smiths Disco’ is likely to make an appearance in Fray’s mid-set acoustic solo stint, with Falcon album track, ‘Rest of the World has Gone Home’ a potential exciting curveball choice based on recent shows.
Will we get a cover this time? We think Fray will have something special up his sleeve for tonight, aside from the expected hometown nods to The Stone Roses and James, with snippets of ‘Standing Here’ and ‘Tomorrow’ in ‘Please Don’t’ and ‘What Took You So Long?’ respectively.
Whatever the set, we know from every big Courteeners outdoor performance in the past that fans are in for a treat today, so roll on 5pm!
…Follow us on our socials:
If you haven’t already, make sure you check out our Fantasy Pints Podcast, where we interview a different guest each week and ask the one common question – “if you could go for a drink with any three musicians past or present, who would you choose any why?” Latest episode below!