Bowling For Soup - Live Review
An amazing night lay ahead in Manchester. The Academies were rammed with three different gigs going on on the same night. In Academy 1, returning to Manchester after just under three years are Bowling for Soup. I’ve seen them in the past, oddly enough the last time was on their farewell tour so I felt like this was going to be a nice welcome back for the band. And I was right. Having entered the venue late I was greeted with a massive crowd all pumped for the night to come. Support band, Lacey were already on and people were enjoying them. Another thing to note is that I haven’t been to Academy 1 in just over a year, so it was nice to be reaquainted with the venue.
Lacey did impress me and I haven’t had a real chance to check these guys out until now; I think they are pretty damn decent. They have an interesting setup with three guitars that produced an interesting style. It was nice to hear guitar harmonies like this and the lead guitar over the top added to the melodies really well. The band have a really good stage presence and really fill the stage. However, their confidence came and went at times. Sometimes they seemed really confident and entertaining and then at times they slipped and they seemed quite shy and distant from the crowd, maybe the size of the crowd was a bit much to them. I was quite interested in them and they had really good stage chemistry and they performed every song with a smooth flow. I just felt some of their songs were a little bland so I guess you could say they were a mixed bag. They have elements that I really like and there were times when their performance hit some real highs but there were parts that weren’t great. To be honest I’d be interested in seeing them in their own headline show as I do think their music was really good. They’re coming back to Manchester in June, so I say check them out, they might surprise you.
All I can say is, I have a new favourite band - these guys just kicked so much ass. The American punk rockers came on stage to an amazing ovation. They blasted raw and energetic punk music that kick a little fire into the Manchester crowd. Lead vocalist Kelly Ogden was full of life and personality as she played some vicious grinding bass guitar. All of their songs had a sense of command and power to them. The guitar was savagely intense as it belted out great riffs and melodies. As well as their vibrant energy and slick punk stylings, they had an awesome stage personality. They made great banter with the crowd and there was some pretty damn decent back and forth between the band and the fans. The size of the crowd made watching them an even better experience. Sometimes bands like this can’t perform in front of big crowds but The Dollyrots were just experts at it and made the whole set just fun. I absolutely adored them. New favourite band alert!
I have to give this man his own little section so I can talk about him properly. So between the sets we had MC Lars hosting the show and introducing the bands while busting out some tunes at the same time. I have never seen a show hosted before, barring festivals so this was a great way to break up the show and give the fans some entertainment while waiting for the bands to come on stage. Now I love MC Lars, he’s one of my favourite entertainers working today and I only saw two of his performances of the night, and both were absolutely brilliant. I’ve not mentioned him until now because this was pretty damn special for me. Having him host the show was awesome. His bad sense of humour about England notwithstanding he was bloody entertaining. Playing a couple of his tunes like “Mr Raven” and “Download This Song” were fun to listen to, particularly with the fan participation. Although some people were questioning on how planned it was. He was such an amazing performer and I hope it’s not the last time I get to see him.
Bowling for Soup
So here it was, the big return and they didn’t disappoint for a single second. Everything that you could want out of a Bowling for Soup show was here: the comedy, the rock, the drinking, the banter and the fun. Opening on The Bitch Song was certainly good choice as it got the crowd singing, and singing loud and it all sounded great. The live production was amazing and it all looked very impressive. The band just blasted through the setlist that was full of hits and fan favourites like Emily, Ohio (Come Back to Texas) and Punk Rock 101 and the fans just ate up everything that the band were serving. The crowd was really loud screaming the words back at the band. The songs were coming through as clear as day. The stage was set out as a pub where the band had drink at the end of Punk Rock 101. They also used it before the encore too. A decent idea really I think more rock bands need to bring a pub onstage with them. More big fan favourites came and went like 1985 & Turbulence getting big reactions every time.
Bowling for Soup powered through the set very much in the punk style as they speeded through the songs. Speaking of 1985, so began the covers part of the setlist. As well as 1985, they played a compilation of pop-punk hits, Blink 182’s All The Small Things, Green Day’s Basket Case, Good Charlotte’s Girls and Boys, New Found Glory’s My Friends Over You, Jimmy Eat World’s The Middle and ending on a full cover of Fountain of Wayne’s Stacy’s Mom. Immediately a flood of memories came back to me of days just watching Kerrang TV and nothing else, it was pretty damn cool. The other big moment of the night was when The Dollyrots joined them onstage to perform Love Ya, Love Ya, Love Ya, another cheerful point in the set that the crowd loved.
Everything about this gig was just great. From the set, to the hilarious banter with the fans and between the band members too. They’re just one of those bands that have such a great connection with their fans and they put on a fantastic show. I loved it from start to finish. Welcome back Bowling for Soup, let’s hope you’re not going anywhere anytime soon.
Words: Mick Birchall | Photos: Cai Dixon