The Coral @ The Junction, Cambridge, 9th October 2002

It’s a bit of an ode to the Liverpool music scene tonight in Cambridge. The Coral are in town on their end of year tour, and they bring with them The Hokum Clones and The Zutons, who both hail from the town that is churning out exciting new bands by the dozen. Of all the bands to bring us their Mersey beats, however, The Coral are without doubt the finest and certainly the most prolific. Having released a superb album in the summer, we hear a new offering is in the pipeline for some time next year. That’ll have to wait, as tonight is about establishing themselves in the hearts of their already adoring fans.

A clean cut, schoolboyish looking James Skelly scampers onstage announces that they’re the Coral, and they’ll be doing some songs for us. And play us some songs they certainly do – set opener ‘Spanish Main’ is an aggressive statement of intent that virtually raises the roof of the tiny Junction, whilst the chorus of ‘Waiting For The Heartaches’ is screamed out so enthusiastically by both the band and crowd that security have trouble keeping a lid on things. In between Skelly tells us that the Lord knows everyone can be a bad man once in a while during ‘Bad Man’ – a bit of prophecy you’d expect from a band who are riding as high as they are. ‘Dressed Like A Cow’, an inexplicable omission from their album is, a catchy, jubilant tune that brings a warm glow to the otherwise cold, miserable night in East Anglia. A few excellent B-sides are included (‘Follow The Sun’ and ‘God Knows’) giving the impression that this band are finding it impossible to write anything other than great pop gems at the moment.

‘Dreaming Of You’, their latest forray into the chart world, is the most mainstream, radio friendly thing they’ve done amongst an album’s worth of bizarre and unorthodox offerings. Unsurprisingly, it goes down a treat. Single of the year? Without a doubt. The slow, mesmerising ‘Shadows Fall’ follows, and by this time the band are reeling in their smugness. They’re moving rapidly into untouchable territory and it’s only October. Back in February, they were being viewed with gross scepticism when they opened the NME Carling Awards and they were not quite to the liking of the lager louts at Oasis’ Finsbury Park gigs – Philistines! What a difference a couple of cracking singles can make. The in your face early release ‘Skeleton Key’ is cranked up a decibel, and ‘Goodbye’, the set closer, is converted into what is a ten minute, psychedelic epic. It works superbly well, but you'd expect nothing less as everything these Scousers touch at the moment is turning to gold. The sheer brilliance of it should establish it as a set closer for plenty of shows to come. They depart, knowing another section of middle England has been conquered. There's no encore, but encores aren't 'in' at the moment (Just ask The Strokes), and The Coral certainly are 'in'. They’re a band experimenting and having fun at the same time, and they’ve almost unintentionally taken the music industry by storm. Forget the erratic Libertines, if we’re looking for a band to represent our Isles in the new rock revolution, we needn’t look further.

Set List:

  • Spanish Main

  • Bad Man

  • Waiting For The Heartaches

  • Calendars And Clocks

  • Dressed Like A Cow

  • Simon Diamond

  • Follow The Sun

  • God Knows

  • Dreaming Of You

  • Shadows Fall

  • Skeleton Key

  • Goodbye

    Jeremy Lloyd