Review: Teenage Fanclub @ The Croxton Bandroom (Melbourne)

Teenage Fanclub played The Croxton Bandroom (Melbourne) on 9 March, 2024.
Bron is a Melbourne-based science journalist who loves to return 'home' to a band room any chance she gets. She has 25 years' experience and has worked for Rolling Stone, Blunt, The Sydney Morning Herald, JUICE and many more.

Thirty years ago, Scottish power-pop darlings Teenage Fanclub played one of the most epic Big Day Outs in history, touring the country alongside Soundgarden, Smashing Pumpkins, Urge Overkill, The Breeders, Bjork, The Ramones and Primus.

Testament to the band's longevity and enduring appeal, there were plenty of people who caught them back in 1994 on hand tonight, for this sold-out Croxton Bandroom show (9 March).

While band and fans may have a few more grey hairs and stronger-prescription glasses 30 years on, the fuzzy, melodic and wholesome indie pop, drenched in harmonies and nostalgia, remains timeless. As such, it was an absolute pleasure from start to finish.

While the band no longer play some of their best-loved tunes, like 'Sparky's Dream' – which was penned by former member Gerard Love, who quit the group in 2018 – there was no shortage of songs to draw from, across their 12 albums that date back to 1990.

After kicking off with 'Home' from 2021's 'Endless Arcade', frontman Norman Blake wasted no time in reminding everyone that his gentle art of songwriting has been one of the key reasons they've retained such a passionate, loyal fan base.

Another newer tune followed in 'Tired of Being Alone', a standout from 2023's 'Nothing Lasts Forever', before they began rolling out some classics – the gorgeous 'About You' (from 1995's pop-tastic 'Grand Prix'), 'Alcoholiday' and 'What You Do To Me' (from the seminal 1991 record 'Bandwagonesque'), 'I Don't Want Control Of You' (from 1997's 'Songs From Northern Britain').

Blake was in good spirits joking about how, as they were coming to the end of the main set, the band would pretend to say goodnight and go off to the corner of the stage.

Sure, half his banter may have been lost on the audience, with that thick Glaswegian accent washing over the Aussies in the crowd, but what was not missed was how happy the band were to be back onstage down under, in front of a sold-out crowd no less. Even in the middle of a horrific long-weekend heatwave (it was still 36 degrees outside when the band hit the stage at 9pm).

Closing out the set was a bristling, noisy rendition of crowd favourite 'The Concept', an epic dirgy pop-rock song, drenched in wonderful harmonies, and one of 'Bandwagonesque''s many highlights.

While Teenage Fanclub have always felt somewhat underrated, the love for 'Bandwagonesque' has never wavered among fans – in fact, Death Cab For Cutie frontman Ben Gibbard even covered it from start to finish a few years ago (and comes highly recommended for a listen).

A four-song encore followed, with the fitting 'Everything Flows' closing out the night. The song, raucous and catchy, was the band's first single back in 1990. Even with a dozen records and now four decades of playing music under most of the members' belts, old and new tunes meshed together wonderfully and the old classics sounded as fresh as ever.

We'll forgive the crowd for looking a little less than enthusiastic, with only a few lone dancers among the hundreds of head-nodders crammed into the venue – after all, it was bloody hot both outside and inside the room. The smiles on the faces of everyone filing out or huddled around the merch desk certainly told a different story.

It's always been a pleasure, Teenage Fanclub – both in 1994 and now, three decades later.

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