Welcome back to insanity! I'm glad that you keep coming around even when I'm slow and sorry. I'm trying to get back on a roll.
I haven't seen much live music lately. About the only thing I've seen is the interior of jets going back and forth to H-Town, and my shabby little office. The Man has been relentless. But I did get away from his greedy clutches to go and see one of my very favorite bands, Teenage Fanclub. They played Union Transfer, a great venue if there ever was one, and we got there early and had a great space on the elevated rail to catch an unobstructed view of the show.
If you've never heard of Teenage Fanclub, and you judge them simply by their name, you'll be disappointed. Yes, it's a terrible band name, right up there with the New Pornographers, but both bands are great. There are very few things in this world that are perfectly named. One is the Chevy Suburban. Yeah, GM could have tried to tell us that this massive four wheel drive vehicle was built to do the environs around Moab, Utah, but that would have been a lie. It was designed to haul families around the suburbs with a teeny tiny little woman steering it from ballgames to dance practices to the mall. The Suburban was perfectly named.
Other car companies have done well with names, too, like the Nissan Armada, which was huge and took up 2 lanes of I-95 all on its own. Others, like the Ford Expedition, are purely aspirational. It makes it sound like you might go to the moon or something when you're really going to the Regal to see some tepid Hollywood schlockbuster. And others are just stupidly named with numbers, so that you have to know the brand and all of its offerings in order to go "oh, that's a hot (or not) car." Come on, give us something, like Malibu (young things in bathing suits heading to the beach, yeah that works), that makes us visualize a good time. Not the damn 3 series. Hey, don't bad things come in threes? Yeah, that's what I thought.
Wow, that got off all wrong. Where the heck was I? Right, Teenage Fanclub, a poorly named band. If you dig in to this band's music, you'll find a Beatle-esque "alternative" band from Scotland that has put out some of the best pop-rock songs of the last 25 years. Think Beatles, the Byrds, Big Star and other quality rock bands and you'll get the drift. They have 3 songwriters, all of whom are great, and their live shows usually highlight each one's output as they bounce from song to song on stage.
TF has put out a bunch of albums, but my favorites are Bandwagonesque (Spin Magazine's 1991 Album of the Year), Thirteen, Grand Prix and Howdy. Four great albums, every one of them a keeper. TF came out and went right into one of my favorite songs, About You. I happily sang along to the consternation of those around me who actually paid to hear TF sing those songs. Oops, sorry.
How good is that song? I love it. And you wouldn't think that the guys singing it look like grandfathers, would you? Another one of those "book by its cover" things. Great music is great music. Kurt Cobain called them "the best band in the world," and whether he was right or not, they are worthy of acclaim.
Unfortunately, Gerard Love announced that he was done with the global touring and left the band in 2018. I had seen TF in DC before and all of the "big 3" were there, but this time it was just Norman Blake (who is funny as hell) and Raymond McGinley carrying the load. It was still a great show.
Now, when I say that, it's not like a Low Cut Connie show. It's not showmanship. It's a tight, well rehearsed band going through a deep catalog of great songs. No big light shows, jumping around the stage, or Iggy like moves. Sigh. But a good band with great material still makes for a fun night out. And this one was fun.
Another of my favorite Teenage Fanclub songs is Verisimillitude. They played it. It was great.
How smart are those lyrics? And the song is super-catchy, too. That's when you know you're dealing with genius. Sure, they don't look like rock stars anymore - no Struts here, thank you - but so what? I don't look like anything other than a douche bag, and yet.... wait, bad comparison. Anyway, TF has some terrific rock songs that I just love.
The band covered the gamut, playing songs from throughout their lengthy career. They haven't toured the US very much, and I was glad that they filled the gaps. A couple of years ago, I kept seeing that they were playing in Scotland, but not many places outside of the British Isles. I started hinting that I had always wanted to see Scotland - Helen immediately said "who do you want to see over there?" And then TF announced a US tour, and I got the itch scratched without having to go to Glasgow. It was nice of them to save me all that money. It was also nice of them to come back to Philly so that I could drag along a healthy sized crew to enjoy the show.
The band finished with two great songs from Bandwagonesque: The Concept and What You Do To Me. It was a great way to finish, and pushed us out of the club into a nice night with a deep and abiding sense of satisfaction. They look a little different in the videos below, but their voices and musicianship remain fully in tact.
Why aren't these guys huge? Who knows? I'm just glad that they exist and persist. And I'm glad that I got to see them in my favorite Philly club one more time. And with that ...
I'm outta here … but just for now. I'll be raging back shortly with a lot of other drivel that you won't want to miss. But it's 70 degrees outside and it's time for me to get rid of that pasty-white winter complexion - I'm freaking myself out with that opaque look, knowhatImean? You do whatever you want to do, but promise me one thing: you'll be back.
Love you BRP readers.
My name is Bill, and I live in the greater Philadelphia area. I love music, and I have a lot of opinions. This site is primarily focused on music, but sometimes I get off track. I hope you enjoy.