Reel Big Fish @ Academy 2
Academy 2 was the scene, Suburban Legends had just finished getting the crowd rowdy with their amazing rendition of ‘Under The Sea’ from Disney’s The Little Mermaid, and the beers were flowing in the crowded venue.
The conditions were perfect for what Reel Big Fish were about to release to the Manchester faithful. Party atmosphere personified.
With their sensational brass section, the ska-punk six-piece hit the stage with a cover of Final Countdown by Europe. This began the huge chorus of vocals from the adorning fans, which was a theme for the rest of the night. Aaron Barrett and his relatively new line-up played cult hit after cult hit in majestic fashion, bringing together the tongue in cheek elements of skater punk, with the high party vibes from ska. Everyone Else Is An Asshole, Trendy, Your Guts (I Hate ‘Em) and Hiding In My Headphones were to name a few, before they started swinging for the fences with their version of Monkey Man, Cheer Up and everybody’s favourite sexual conversion record She Has a Girlfriend Now.
There was a slight faux pas during Where Have You Been? when Barrett jumped straight into the second verse, but no harm done as the guys reset and slipped the track in later on in their lavishly vibrant set.
It was almost tropical in the jam-packed setting and it proved too much for one kid, as they had to be helped out of the crowd after severe overheating. That’s dedication for you! Ska is very centralised around the notion of performing cover songs in an extravagant manner, and tonight was no exception. Reel Big Fish dropped the grunge anthem Smells Like Teen Spirit and were even encouraged by the crowd to play the song in it’s entirety before ‘finishing’ their set with Sell Out.
Some unfit types like myself may have found a slight relief in the break for the encore, but the majority chanted and urged Reel Big Fish to get straight back where they belong, on stage with some more party-core antics.
As every band does nowadays, RBF hit the stage to glorious rapture for their cover-filled encore. Sublime is a fitting word as they played Boss DJ to a packed house, before raising the volume with Beer and finishing with their ever-popular Take On Me cover. It was a blast, everyone loved every second of the performance, and when Reel Big Fish come back to Manchester, we’re all going to do it all over again with massive smiles on our faces and pints of beer in our hands. Go see Reel Big Fish, trust me; you’ll have the same stupid grin on your face and you’ll love it just as much.
Words: Tom Blackwell | Photos: Cai Dixon