[Teenage Fanclub and Radar Brothers at Royale, 9/25/2010. Photos by Michael Piantigini]
Teenage Fanclub are one of those bands that are so irresistible that when you see them you wonder why you listen to anyone else.
Unfortunately, getting that feeling from them is all too rare these days, since they are apparently on a quinquennial album release schedule with even more rare visits to Boston. Scotland is far away, but one of them lives in Canada now - that's either an improvement or even worse. I suppose this makes it all the more special, though I will still selfishly pine for more.
Strummy pop songs with soaring harmonies are the stock and trade of a whole movement of bands, but so precious few manage to join the ranks of power pop's inspirational guiding lights. Teenage Fanclub are certainly followers of Big Star, Badfinger, The Byrds, and (of course) The Beatles, but they also now continue to inspire countless bands who've followed them.
They're here in support of their understated grower of a new album, Shadows (Merge), but only played four from it - three of those being the album's biggest highlights: "Sometimes I Don't Need To Believe in Anything," single "Baby Lee," and "When I Still Have Thee." The latter being a Teenage Fanclub classic of the highest order. They should re-press their 2003 best-of just to include it.
Already on that list is the inspirational "Ain't That Enough" from 1997's Songs From Northern Britain. I defy anyone not to feel optimistic when hearing Norman Blake, Raymond McGinley, and Gerard Love harmonize it's chorus "Here is a sunrise Ain't that enough/True as a clear sky, ain't that enough." We got that and more: the sweet "Your Love Is The Place Where I Come From," an epic "Everything Flows," and, from 1991's watershed Bandwagonesque, "Alcoholiday," "Star Sign," and the I-still-can't-believe-I-Saw-It-On-Saturday-Night-Live set-closer "The Concept."
I can't imagine anyone left disappointed. This was a crowd-pleasing hits set, but it's been so long, we sorely needed it.
Radar Brothers sounded great, but played their mellow pop to a mostly-empty room, much like Versus did earlier in the week. The 6:45 (nightclub!) set time can't have been fun for them, but people gotta dance, I suppose.
Teenage Fanclub: Intertubes | MySpace | Twitter | at Merge
Radar Brothers: Intertubes | MySpace | at Merge