The Coral: "Streaming has given us a younger fanbase"

LIVE: The Coral – The Albert Hall, Manchester

Any theories that Merseyside’s leading light of recent years had run out of steam have been blown to piece’s by The Coral’s latest LP, Distance Inbetween.

The record is a chugging slice of psych-enthused indie-rock that in all honesty is showing many a young upstart how it should be done properly.

However, the slight change in direction for this Wirral five-piece made for an interesting prospect as Far Out arrived at Manchester’s Albert Hall to catch the current tour.

Would the almost stoner-rock edge of the new record assimilate itself alongside the more concise pop of the band’s early work?

The answer to that question is no nearer to getting answered about half-an-hour in as – in an act of ice cool confidence – James Skelly and co dedicate the first five numbers to Distance Inbetween.

Although there may be some tiny pockets of bemusement coming from those who have just turned up for the hits, the hypnotic motorik that is combined with some swirling visuals makes for an encapsulating and expertly executed set.

The first trip down memory lane comes in the shape of the 60s-inspired ‘Simon Diamond’, taken from the band’s iconic self-titled debut. By now it seems everyone is on the same page in relishing the chance to see The Coral back with us.

The cavernous nature of The Albert Hall can sometimes mean those with a more dexterous sound get lost in the ether, but tonight it seems to work in perfect harmony with the lush-sounding reverb of the band’s latest guise.

In the end, the set transpires to be a perfect mix of nostalgia and fresh energy, treating old-timers to hits like ‘Jacqueline’, ‘Pass It On’ and ‘In the Morning’ – before whipping up a frenzy with a sign-off of ‘Calendars and Clocks’.

Given the elephant in the room in the shape of ‘Dreaming of You’, it’s clear there will be very few nipping off early. But it is instead the probably superior anthem of ‘Goodbye’ that gets the encore started in spectacular fashion.

The interlude that leads up the track’s trademark 10-1 countdown is extended, blown wide open and marks the most euphoric wig-out of the whole evening. Anyone expecting pop to dominate rock ‘n’ roll tonight has been proved sorely mistaken.

‘Dreaming of You’ inevitably then continues the party with the atmosphere reaching boiling point. But there’s time for one more sonic voyage in the shape of another new one, ‘Fear Machine’. The track explodes into a neo-psychedelic spectacle of Pink Floyd proportions. It’s fair to say The Coral are proof that class really can be permanent.

Patrick Davies

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