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Music review: The Coral/Liverpool Philharmonic Hall

Triumphant return to form shows Coral are far from washed up, says Joseph Viney

Published on July 16th 2010.

Music review: The Coral/Liverpool Philharmonic Hall

NOT so long ago you’d have been forgiven for thinking that The Coral were coming to an end.

The momentum never dropped and it allowed them to switch between the more introspective numbers to stone-cold classics like Simon Diamond within the blink of an eye

After losing guitarist Bill Ryder-Jones and then releasing a singles collection, the musical equivalent of football’s dreaded “vote of confidence” from a chairman, it seemed that the group were on their last legs. As the standard bearers for Liverpool, in the mainstream music scene, they had progressed mightily from their early days; psychedelic folk had replaced the Beefheartian stompers that comprised their first album.

Turns out this so-called trouble was all a trick. They’re back and better than ever. With 1,000 Years, their new single, released last week, and album Butterfly House made public on July 12, the old vitality has returned; evident by the sell-out crowd in the Philharmonic last night.

A strange energy permeated throughout; an all-seated venue and a boisterous crowd. Surely a sign of potential trouble? It was not to be, a respectful awe settled over the group as they churned out both selected cuts from the new album and classics like Dreaming Of You, Goodbye and Pass It On.

The magic on stage was beautifully augmented by lighting effects that mirrored some kind of carnival. It was a rich tapestry of blues, whites, reds and yellows all mixed together in different patterns; a visual treat to accompany the aural.

Stage banter has never been the name of the game for The Coral, with each song interspersed with a quick and muttered “Thanks!” or “Nice one!” and only allowing the shortest possible time between tracks. It meant that the momentum never dropped and it allowed them to switch between the more introspective numbers to stone-cold classics like Simon Diamond within the blink of an eye. Every song, new and old, was greeted with warm cheers through to rowdy applause.

It was only at the encore that the crowd threw off the shackles of their surroundings and dared to lift themselves from their seats. Kicking off the second round with a blistering version of Goodbye, it seemed like an amateur hour version of Spartacus; one stood up and the rest followed. Soon enough, the dancing lunatic on the front row didn’t seem so foolish after all. Even the stony-faced security guards looked as if they might dare to crack a smile.

It’s difficult not to enjoy what The Coral do. It’s genuine, hard-working and honest. They have a habit of wearing their influences on their sleeve; expect these lads to emulate a group like Arthur Lee’s Love and quietly plough their own furrow and lead the way for the generations after them.

Never mind waxing lyrical on their new fifth album…what will their 15th album sound like?

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