After nearly a decade together, Canterbury played their last ever show in London on December 19, 2014. Here are some words about it.
About halfway through Canterbury’s set, just before they break into the rousing ‘Diver’, vocalist / guitarist Mike Sparks takes the mic and announces, “This song should have been fucking massive.”
He’s right. But more to the point, this band should have been fucking massive. There’s a cruel irony in the fact that Canterbury’s last ever show takes place in the same room they filled on their first headline tour five or so years ago. Back then, a new generation of the UK rock scene was beginning to bubble over, and Canterbury were – depending on who you asked – the most talented of the bunch. But in subsequent years they’ve been forced to watch many of their peers leapfrog them to daytime radio, bigger venues and festival main stages, or in You Me At Six’s case, Number One albums. Of course, other bands of that time have dropped off the map or long since split up. But Canterbury have always just been there. Being Canterbury. Forever underrated, brilliant, wonderful Canterbury.
As we’ve learned too many times this year, bands of their level have a shelf-life, and so tonight it must come to an end. But they do it on their own terms; with one final run of shows to give the people that really cared about the band a last chance to sing and dance to these songs.
Canterbury have never been the showiest of bands, and they don’t break tradition this evening for the sake of celebration. There are a few surprises here and there – long-standing producer Pete Miles joins them on guitar for ‘Hold Your Own’, before original drummer Scott Peters and keysman Ben Bishop join the line-up for a nostalgic rendition of ‘Set You Right’ - but for the most part, it’s one of those classic, feel-good Canterbury shows. What’s heartwarming, though, is that nearly every single person here is singing along to every word, fists aloft. Canterbury were never a band to attract fairweather fans, and one look around the room confirms that.
Despite “never being ones for encores”, Canterbury give us two, complete with an emotionally-charged list of thank-yous as they bid farewell. A rapturous ‘Friends? We’re More Like A Gang’ closes off the show, and with that, they’re done. That’s it. No more Canterbury.
Canterbury were a band that mattered. Not to everyone, sure, but to those that did, they meant a whole lot. Why? Because they didn’t come with any bullshit attached. They were just a group of guys who started a band, wrote some songs and played some shows. They were nice to people. They didn’t act like rock stars. They focused on what they’re good at. They wrote songs they loved and they played shows from the heart.
We need more bands like Canterbury.
Words by Andy Ritchie. Photos by Ben Gibson.
For the last set of Canterbury photos you’ll ever see, take a look at our gallery.