LIVE: The Coral @ Riverside

The Coral begin their UK-wide tour in Newcastle at the intimate Riverside. The date also coincides with the date of the release of their latest of eight albums Distance Inbetween. Consequently, I gave it a listen through before heading down for the surprisingly early start. Unlike most of the 30-something fellow fans, I opted against a pint and was deterred at £4 price tag for a single mixer and coke so I tuned into the opening support act Cut Glass Kings at 7:15 without an alcoholic beverage in hand.

Cut Glass Kings create an awful lot of toe-tapping as bass drum reverberates around the relatively barren room due to the early start for a Friday night. The Birmingham boys’ new single ‘Drifter’ does not simply ‘drift’ by however and makes this band certainly one to earmark as a band to keep tabs on. Following in their footsteps is ‘Neon Waltz’, once tipped by publications such as NME to head straight to the top, their flight seems to have somewhat stalled. These floppy-haired Brummie lads – aside from the drummer who looks oddly 10 years older – stroll through a mini-set where their 3 guitars add depth to their sound. However, the band fail to really connect with the audience and, quite simply, under-whelm.

The new songs show signs of maturity within The Coral’s sound as they’ve become bigger, more blues-influenced and emotive yet simultaneously maintaining the catchy nature which catapulted them into the limelight.

The venue begins to fill to its sell-out capacity as the middle-aged masses wish to joyfully relive their younger years – and good on them for doing so. Excluding their album of ‘lost’ material, The Coral have been on a five year hiatus. Consequently, the anticipation for their comeback show was mounting. As they finally waltz onto the stage sporting a fantastic selective of headwear, the crowd go into uproar. Relatively understandably, their set consists predominantly of new material which leads to serious head-bopping but prevents true sing-along fun. Accompanying their music, The Coral have a hypnotic background which looks slightly like a screensaver on an old Windows XP computer as the psychedelic backdrop morphs shapes and blends colours. Considering their long time absence, the band sound like they’ve never been away as tracks like ‘Pass It On’ lift a cheerful crowd of alcohol-fuelled revellers.

The new songs show signs of maturity within The Coral’s sound as they’ve become bigger, more blues-influenced and emotive yet simultaneously maintaining the catchy nature which catapulted them into the limelight. If the gig had taken place a few days later, and the crowd had been able to get to grips with its intricacies, the atmosphere could have been truly electric. Instances of this electricity were sparked when ‘In The Morning’ started playing and got the crowd to an unprecedented high. The song’s infamous melodic introduction breaks into a infectious catchy piece of musical genius so much so it was used in a Tesco advert. Its quality meant it was, apparently, the second most played song on UK radio in 2005 behind Daniel Powter’s classic ‘Bad Day’.

Notably, The Coral’s set went on for quite some time as they hope to appease fans with their classic but also to integrate and demonstrate their new direction. The Coral left the stage to rapturous applause, only to return playing their smash hit ‘Dreaming of You’. The buoyant crowd fully embrace the moment with such vigour that some form of middle-aged mosh pit emerges fuelled by bouncing, burly blokes caught up in the moment. The Coral – you’ve been away too long.

Ben Grundy 

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