Last Saturday, The Courteeners took to the stage at Old Trafford Cricket Ground to play the biggest gig of their lives.
May bank holiday saw: Cabbage, Blossoms, The Charlatans and Courteeners all play to a crowd of 50,000 music lovers. Booking the venue, frontman of Courteeners, Liam Fray described it as ‘a gentle reminder that things are still happening up there’ (up North) , but became much more than that when a suicide-bomber walked into the foyer of the MEN Arena killing 22 people and injuring over 120, just 5 days before. Although this didn’t stop Fray – in fact, it only made him more determined.
The gig became a symbol of hope for Manchester, something to pick it back up after it had been so callously broken down.
Cabbage were first to take to the stage and although I actually missed seeing their set, as I was in the queue for the bar (oops). You could still hear their shouts and guitars from outside the stadium.
Blossoms graced the stage next and they were fantastic. A vocal perfect ‘Honey Sweet’ played across the cricket ground to begin their set. Although they only played 4/5 songs, Tom Ogden and co certainly picked the crowd pleasers, which is the right thing to do at a gig like that. Ending with ‘Charlemagne’ the Manchester band, left the crowd in high spirits.
However, The Charlatans, in my opinion, lost the crowds interest. They were there to promote their new album, but I didn’t think it was ‘their’ gig to do that. They should have took an idea from Blossoms and played the crowd pleasers, much like a festival set would. ‘The Only One I Know’ – the only song by The Charlatans some people do know, wasn’t regarded by the band as their biggest hit, playing it in the middle of their set and showing the classic no love, so I was left feeling slightly disappointed by Tim Burgess and the rest of the Band.
Out with the old and in with the new though, as Liam Fray walked on stage and took to the mic, not to belt out Notion, but instead, to recite local writer Ryan Williams’ poem about the recent attack on the city. The emotional poem ended with Fray putting nothing but passion into the lines ‘Time after time we’ll rise from the dust / You’ll never prevail – not against us / This is Manchester, our Manchester, and the bees still buzz.’ I wiped the tears from my eyes and then, the drums kicked into ‘Are You In Love With A Notion’ and the crowd went mad.
‘Cavorting’ was up next and the band continued to belt out banger after banger. 21 songs down and out came Fray’s acoustic guitar, to play the track branded ‘Manchester’s bounce-back anthem’ : ‘Don’t Look Back In Anger’, which saw 50,000 people singing along. The heartfelt tribute moved even grown men to tears and some compared one Liam to another , when Fray took on the Gallagher’s song.
Now came the best and worst part of the night all rolled into one. The ending coming close, but with every ending comes a Finale, and isn’t that just what we got. Fireworks shot out of the stage as soon as the drums of ‘Not Nineteen Forever’ kicked in and the atmosphere whilst the song played was genuinely undescribable.
Leaving on renowned show closer ‘What Took You So Long’ the crowd were going berserk, singing, chanting, jumping and dancing together, just the way a concert should end.
Old Trafford will now host a ‘One Love Manchester’ concert on Sunday 4th of June to raise money for the victims of the Manchester attack. The show will see Ariana Grande return to the UK, and also the likes of Coldplay, Take That, Miley Cyrus, Katy Perry, Black Eyed Peas and many more take to the stage to all pay tribute to the victims of the Manchester concert.
Nieve Kate Morrison