A first visit for me to this venue and the layout is really good. There is plenty of space around the bar areas, a separate room for merchandise, good accessibility all around, plenty of space for the crowd and a mezzanine above to get a great overview of the show.
First on were Texan teenagers NOT UR GIRLFRENZ, whose stage introduction consisted of the Powerpuff Girls theme along with visual graphics. This feisty three-piece took to the stage and whilst they may look like the new kids on the block, they rocked out like veterans. The Dallas trio quickly got interacting with the crowd with some “Yeehaws!” before continuing with their set. The band sound like a hybrid of AVRIL LAVIGNE and PARAMORE whilst looking like a miniature female NIRVANA. They covered MY CHEMICAL ROMANCE’s I’m Not Okay and there was a tease of OASIS’ Wonderwall but then said we should ask BOWLING FOR SOUP to do it instead. This was before doing a cover of SPICE GIRLS Wannabe that went down really well with the crowd.
The main support for the tour consisted of Montreal’s SIMPLE PLAN who went straight into stalwart song I’d Do Anything. This got the crowd going followed by numerous tracks from their back catalogue including Jump, Welcome to My Life, Addicted) with plenty of emphasis on innuendo before starting the song Boom) and we even got their rendition of the Scooby Doo theme!
SIMPLE PLAN had a great interaction with the crowd throughout and you can tell they are a very polished and tight band with how they interacted together on stage. Pop-Punk is not really my go to genre of choice or for gigs that I would normally attend but the energy generated by the crowd and the band just came across as fun and happy and really made me want to dig out my skateboard! SIMPLE PLAN may have been the main support act on the tour but they performed as if they were the headliners of the tour.
Onto our headliners BOWLING FOR SOUP – what a show!
During the day before the concert, I managed to attend the Pre-Show Fan Party at The Salisbury in Manchester. They were handing out plectrums, lanyards and can koozies and had BFS themed drinks available. There was a BFS playlist and you were even able to get BFS themed tattoos. This was really cool to attend something like this where everyone was anticipating that evenings concert in earnest.
I had only ever seen BOWLING FOR SOUP at a festival (Download 2007) so was really looking forward to seeing them again and also watching them at a venue show for the first time.
BFS performed practically a Best Of set from start to finish, there was a bar set up on stage which had all of the VIP Guests watching from there and the side of the stage with drinks given throughout. It was a really good thing to see that BFS really are brilliant with their fans!
After the Intro they went straight into Suckerpunch followed with High School Never End’s, BFFF and then onto Ohio (Come Back to Texas) of which NOT UR GIRLFRENZ came back out to play the last chorus. We were then played their latest offering Alexa Bliss, which is about the wrestler of the same name and she is a huge BFS fan too.
BFS then played the first track I ever heard by the group which was The Bitch Song, this is amongst my favourite songs by the band and went down a treat live. The interaction with the band and the crowd was sublime along with the onstage banter between each member too.
When it got to Girl All The Bad Guys Want, there was a fan in the crowd who had a sign saying “please let me play Girl All The Bad Guys Want with you so that my friends think I am cool” BFS invited the fan on stage and told him not to fuck it up! The fan took over Jared’s guitar so he could concentrate solely on the vocals. The fan played really well and it was good that the band allowed a fan to play one of their biggest songs with them.
We got treated to a medley of classic rock covers with ACDC’s Shoot to Thrill and MÖTLEY CRÜE’s Kickstart My Heart which the crowd lapped up followed by Today Is Gonna Be A Great Day (The Phineas and Ferb theme)
Before going into the song HRSA (a cover from the band BLUE OCTOBER) Jared spoke about both his and the bands mental health issues which resonates with the message we share at Rock Out Stand Out. He encouraged people to talk, look after and love each other rather than keep it all bottled up and suffer in silence.
We then had a short break for a photo opportunity time with the band posing across the stage and they went into the classic hits Almost and Punk Rock 101.
For the encore we were greeted with the SR-71 Cover of 1985 which is a really good cover song and amongst my favourite hits by BFS that they have in their catalogue. For the grand finale, A Really Cool Dance Song which in itself is really silly and parodies the typical mainstream music trends.
Overall, an amazing first gig of the year and a good experience at a new venue for me, I will more than likely be going out of my way to catch these bands again next time they tour.
Words: Martin White