Courteeners // Heaton Park, Manchester, 2015 – Kara Nielsen
Thousands stood beneath the sinking sun, gladiators who had ferociously pushed and shoved their way to this final battle. Cups of water were handed to parched mouths, each precious drop gulped down to prepare for what was to come. The air filled with cigarette smoke and anticipation. The moment that 25,000 fans had been waiting for lay seconds away.
“Anyone caught using flares will be ejected” broadcast across bellowing screens, only to be read and swiftly ignored. Those who attended the Courteener’s homecoming gig at Heaton Park in 2015 will forever remember the words that followed. Frontman Fray clutched the mic: “I’ve waited 10 years for this.”
The match had been lit. That first notorious chord struck the guitar—eruption. A tsunami crashed through the crowd, reverberating people back and forth, throwing the hardccore, front-row warriors against swaying wads of metal. At that very moment, Heaton Park existed in its own euphoric world of sweat and beer. An iconic moment in Manchester’s musical history was in the making, and everybody knew it. Singing as if their lives depended on it, countless bodies chanted the words they’d waited a lifetime to hear at their legendary park: “God Bless the Band.”