Teenage Fanclub’s return to Aberdeen conjures up memories of an infamous concert that left singer Norman Blake laughing and nervous BBC Radio 1 producers sweating.
Scottish alt-rock legends Teenage Fanclub’s legendary performance was broadcast live from the Granite City nationwide as part of a BBC Radio 1 festival.
As millions listened in the audience burst into an impromptu rendition of a well-known song about Aberdeen FC fans and sheep!
Now one of Scotland’s most influential bands are back in Aberdeen for a headline show at The Beach Ballroom on Wednesday September 15.
Norman said: “We had a famous show in Aberdeen, well famous in our minds.
“It was a live performance on Radio 1 way back in the day.
“The audience sparked up with a chorus of ‘We’re Only Sheep…..
“So that,” laughed Norman, “is a very strong memory of Aberdeen every time we come back to the city.
“We have been playing Aberdeen since we started 30-odd years ago and always have great shows up there.”
Endless Arcade recorded before lockdown
Formed in Bellshill in 1989, Teenage Fanclub will play Aberdeen to promote recently released album Endless Arcade.
The album walks a delicate line between melancholia and euphoria with the harmony-rich bittersweet tracks balancing hope and love with anxiety, insecurity and loss.
With tracks such as Everything Is Falling Apart or I’m More Inclined, which has the lyric “I could live in isolation”, the album could be a soundtrack for the coronavirus lockdown.
Yet it was recorded before the pandemic began to rage in March 2020.
It has just taken 18 months for the opportunity to play Endless Arcade live to arise.
In positive news for fans, the band hope to write, record and release another new album within the next year.
Norman said: “We were lucky in that we actually recorded the album before the pandemic.
“I know some bands that were planning to make albums then lockdown happened so they couldn’t get into a studio.
“Everything is Falling Apart was written a year before the pandemic when we had no notion that was going to happen.
“Despite that a lot of people have said to us how they can relate to the songs during the pandemic.
“It is interesting – because they have nothing to do with it.
“If we hadn’t gone into the studio at that time we wouldn’t have had the album and we wouldn’t have been able to do these shows.”
Longest spell in 30 years without a live gig
Although the album recording process avoided the ravages of the coronavirus lockdown the ability to promote it, and hence actually release it, were affected.
A tour of the UK and Europe had to be scrapped.
After more than three decades together, it was Teenage Fanclub’s longest period away from a stage and they brushed off any ring rust ahead of the tour with a number of one-off shows in recent weeks.
Norman explained: “We played in Cardiff about a month ago and The Green Man a few weekends ago.
“Before that we hadn’t played for getting on for two years due to the pandemic which, as you could imagine, has been frustrating.
“It was the longest we have gone without playing a show in the 30-odd year history of the band.
“Aberdeen will be one of first club shows we have played for a long time.
“Our UK tour has now been reduced to five shows. Three in Scotland and two in England and that’s it.
“At least it’s something though and we can finally get out to play the new songs live.”
A steady journey back to normality
Norman accepts there will initially be a balance between caution after 18 months of restrictions and those keen for a quick return to normality with live shows.
He said: “It has been a tough time for everyone but gradually things are starting to get back to normal.
“We are getting there, but there is still a wee bit to go yet.
“I think there is still some hesitancy, and understandably so, with some people worried about going out to shows at the moment.
“It will take a bit of time for people to get confident enough to get back in numbers but I’m sure it’ll happen.
“Whilst there are people who are hesitant there also also those who are keen to get out and have a social life again.
“I have only recently started going out. I was out with a friend at a restaurant the other night and it was the first time I had done that in a while.
“The more confidence people have they will slide right back into normality again.”
Debut album A Catholic Education was swathed in Big Star and The Byrds melodies but also paid a homage to alt-rock and punk.
Upon signing to influential label Creation in the 90s Teenage Fanclub released hit albums Bandwagonesque, Thirteen, Grand Prix and Songs From Northern Britain.
Their faultless back catalogue has continued through the decades with Endless Arcade, which reached number 11 in the UK charts, the band’s 12 studio album.
Teenage Fanclub go up to 11!
— Teenage Fanclub (@TeenageFanclub) May 7, 2021
John Lennon vibes in Hamburg
Endless Arcade was recorded at the residential Clouds Hill in Hamburg, Germany – a studio previously used by bands ranging from multi-million sellers The Killers and Elbow to German legends Faust and Damo Suzuki (Can).
The album was also recorded through a desk used in the making of a legendary John Lennon album.
Norman said: “The studio was great, was run by nice people and the equipment was amazing.
“The desk we used is the one Double Fantasy was recorded on.
“Our music went through that so hopefully we have some of the Double Fantasy vibes on it.
“We stayed in Hamburg for a while and had two trips of a couple of weeks each time.
“It’s a city we have always liked as Hamburg is a big music city with all that history surrounding The Beatles.”
Teenage Fanclub have released only three albums in more than a decade – Shadows (2010), Here (2016) and the recent Endless Arcade.
The lockdown offered a period of reflection and the band decided to be more prolific.
Teenage Fanclub fans can, fingers crossed, expect a new album within a year.
Norman said: “Due to the pandemic we thought we need to get working a bit more.
“There were quite significant gaps between the last two albums and I think we would like to change that.
“We are in a position where we can do that as we can go and record whenever we want.
“Now we will make the cycle happen a bit more quickly. I don’t see why we can’t have another album out in the next year or so.
“We will certainly give it a go.”