Tonight's show comes in the middle of a headline tour for The Courteeners' fourth record, which hit the top three when released in the summer. The lack of a hometown date on the schedule means an unusually high proportion of the audience are Mancunians, which, mixed with the natives, results in a charged atmosphere even before the band hit the stage.

The Courteeners

Like the album the tour is supporting, tonight opens with 'White Horses' - and the result is a similarly solid, if unspectacular, start. 'How Good It Was' immediately changes this and the room is literally bouncing, with the track getting a reception up there with beloved older songs such as 'Cavorting' which follows it up. There is a genuine euphoria throughout the crowd and it wouldn't be an exaggeration to say the hardcore fans account for the vast majority present. This is best exemplified later in the solo acoustic section of the set (where Liam Fray's vocals impress minus thunderous chords and thumping rhythms) where the crowd chant for - and get - a rendition of b-side 'Smith's Disco'. It is in fact the second non-album track to be performed and 'Sunflower' also gets crowd participation, though on a lower scale. Given that the band don't perform all their singles, with the majority of the set lifted from their debut and current releases, it is both a brave choice for the performers and a rewarding choice for clearly fanatical followers.

Seemingly getting a live debut, 'International' is performed in a stripped-down manner and works well, whilst 'Please Don't' gets the same treatment and remains a huge crowd sing-a-long after all these years. The closing trio of 'Next Time You Call', 'Not Nineteen Forever' and 'What Took You So Long?' crank up the volume once more, with the latter two in particular getting the sort of reaction that makes them obvious festival favourites. Fray alludes to shows in Manchester next year and, on tonight's evidence, they could be a highlight of the summer - the quartet put in an impressive performance and, combined with their fans energy, you can't fail to be swept along.

Alex Lai

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