Teenage Fanclub played the Paradise – 3/11

Scottish stalwarts Teenage Fanclub returned to Boston last Monday evening for a lovely set at Comm. Ave.’s Paradise. 

Teenage Fanclub have to rank somewhere high among the most charming bands of all time. The unassuming Scotsmen’s brand of jangly power-pop is an easy sell for anyone who ever thought Big Star could use more distortion pedals, sure, but their appeal ought to extend beyond us spot-the-influence geeks too. I can’t imagine playing “The Concept” or “Verisimilitude” for pretty much anyone in my life who appreciates things like melodies or joy and drawing a negative reaction.

I bring this up because Teenage Fanclub are a treasure that we perhaps don’t appreciate. As they subtly refined their craft in the years since their noisy 1990 debut, and aged gracefully into their more bucolic 2000s output, the group remained so consistent as to be taken for granted.

But then, last summer, the core of the band that seemed like it would always be around was shaken up. Bassist Gerard Love, who shared singing/songwriting duties with guitarists Norman Blake and Raymond McGinley, amicably departed the Fanclub, bringing to an end the 30-year run of a remarkable and rare sort of collaboration.

Without a new record to promote, the run of dates that brought the band’s new, Love-less iteration to town last week might be framed as an answer to the question of whether Teenage Fanclub can remain themselves minus one of their principals.

Thankfully, that answer is a yes. Monday night’s setlist was without access to the band’s whole catalog, of course, but the ever-smiling Blake and McGinley, his more reserved foil, still delivered a satisfying show. With longtime sideman Dave McGowan filling in on Love’s bass lines and backing vocals, the songs still sparkled, the full sweep from 1990’s Catholic Education and the following year’s classic Bandwagonesque all the way through 2016’s Here represented.

There was naturally a sense on stage that things weren’t quite the same – a bit of chemistry missing amid the sudden absence of a longtime bandmate – but regardless, it was a set that made me grateful for that parting of ways to not spell the end for the group. That performance of all-time-greatest-song contender “Alcoholiday” alone was proof we still need them around.

Photos from the set (though unfortunately not openers and Merge labelmates The Love Language, who I wasn’t able to catch) below.