Gig review: Courteeners at First Direct Arena, Leeds

HAS any gig at the First Direct Arena ever been more rapturously received?


Sure, there have been some memorable nights since the venue’s opening three years ago.

But this really was something else as the Courteeners wowed their raucous, rowdy and adoring fans with a brilliant performance that overflowed with energy, verve and utter conviction.

Sheffield band Milburn were the perfect support act to get the party started before Liam Fray and his pals took centre stage, a role they seem born for.

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    When the Mancunian indie-rock band appear, it is apparent that the over-zealous body checks outside the Arena have not really worked.

    Plenty of fans have managed to sneak in flares and light them as Fray fires off the set with Are You in Love With a Notion?

    The crowd erupts and the main standing area becomes a giant moshpit, with bodies jumping around and drinks being thrown.

    It is quite some sight and feels almost a blessed relief to be in the seated area.

    Not that those below are not enjoying themselves; they quite clearly were, but it is not a place for faint-hearted as Fray has little trouble whipping up the crowd into a frenzy.

    New songs Modern Love and particularly The Dilettante slot in seamlessly alongside old favourites like Fallowfield Hillbilly but it is those classic early singles that really inspire the big sing alongs.

    Cavorting goes down particularly well as the crowd lap it up.

    The band took a break from their usual indie rock/ post-punk revival sound to let front man Liam play an acoustic set to the crowd which went down an absolute treat with fans.

    Cross My Heart and Hope to Fly merges into a fine rendition of Pulp’s Disco 2000 before No You Didn’t, No You Don’t and Please Don’t.

    The rest of the band return for the insistent Acrylic and from there the audience can barely catch their breath as the Manchester legends run through Here Come The Young Men and Not Nineteen Forever.

    The fans know what is coming last but when What You Took You So Long? finally begins, the crowd react as though they are hearing this song live for the first time.

    What a performance, and yet this is just a taster before their huge gig at the Old Trafford Cricket Ground next May.

    That should be a special one, but then this was a night that live long in the memory. God bless the band.