By Chris Fung
It was St. Patrick’s day in the year 2014 and whilst my agenda would usually involve enjoying a cold pint of Guinness on this day I instead found myself in the Phones 4U Arena (formally the M.E.N.) about to experience an event I’ve been waiting 7 years for. I was finally going to see pop-punk legends Fall Out Boy on their first full UK tour since they came off hiatus back in February last year after a 3 and a half year break. It would be a chance for me to relive my teenage years but also to hear the band’s latest material from their album Save Rock And Roll.
Before the main event I managed to catch metal quartet The Pretty Reckless, fronted by actress turned musician Taylor Momsen and completed by guitarist Ben Phillips, bassist Mark Damon and drummer Jamie Perkins. The show coincided with the UK release date of their 2nd studio album, Going To Hell, and so the band were keen to showcase the new material. The band’s live sound was certainly on track with matching what the band could produce on their albums which was great to hear, especially Taylor Momsen being able to replicate those dark tones with her vocals. The band’s musical tone certainly reflected their performance in that it was dark and eerie and also lacked liveliness in some sense but you can’t say anything against that because it just suits that band’s image. Taylor Momsen certainly kept up an enthusiastic approach to her show and always sounding on top when addressing the crowd. With The Pretty Reckless being a fairly different style to Fall Out Boy, it seemed that the majority of the crowd were unfamiliar with the band’s material but reacted well to the band’s most well known song, Make Me Wanna Die, from their debut album Light Me Up. On the whole they were a pleasing warm up act who played to their strengths well.
At about 9.15pm the lights went down once more and it was time for Patrick Stump, Pete Wentz, Joe Trohman and Andy Hurley to take to the stage. Going straight into The Phoenix, the opening track from Save Rock And Roll, the band came on wearing black masks, a reference to one of the lines in the song, which provided the big opening to one of the most enjoyable performances I’ve seen. For such a big show the band had a big stage set up with 2 tiers and a large screen at the back. After The Phoenix the band then removed their masks to reveal themselves which resulted in loud screams and cheering all around the arena. After something new to kick off the show, the band then took a visit down memory lane with one my favourite songs from their 2nd album, From Under The Cork Tree, in the form of I Slept With Someone In Fall Out Boy and All I Got Was This Stupid Song Written About Me followed by the always pleasing A Little Less Sixteen Candles, A Little More “Touch Me”. A phenomenal start to say the least was unfortunately followed by a sound system failure in the arena which the band overcame in various ways which involved lead singer and guitarist Patrick Stump doing an acoustic version of Chicago Was So Two Years Ago, which could only just be heard for those near the front, drummer Andy Hurley doing press ups next to his drum kit and bassist Pete Wentz wandering around the stage taking a selfie. The sound was brought back online soon after which was a huge relief for all. To re-ignite the energy from the start of the show, the band played their huge anthem This Ain’t A Scene, It’s An Arms Race from 2007’s Infinity On High. This was more than enough to get the crowd’s spirits back on a high. It was an incredibly pleasing setlist to say the least with a mixture between a greatest hits and new material from their latest album along with a couple of treats from their earlier albums.
It was no problem for the band to make their musical presence known throughout the arena. The venues acoustics provided the means for the bands sound to sound more powerful and energetic than on their albums. What blew people out of the water was how good Patrick Stump’s vocals were live! He sounded just as good live as he does on record which was fantastic and further solidified Fall Out Boy’s establishment as a live band as for a lot of people, including myself, this would have been their first time seeing them live. As expected it was bassist Pete Wentz who acted more as a front man for crowd interaction purposes but all the band members kept up a good stage presence in their own way with Joe Trohman and Andy Hurley performing a guitar and drum solo respectively in the set. About two thirds through the set, Patrick, Pete and Joe made their way in secret to a small stage located in the middle of the arena to perform acoustic versions of Sophomore Slump or Comeback Year and the band’s anthem Grand Theft Autumn/Where Is Your Boy. We got to hear some interaction from Patrick and Joe during this segment as they briefly chatted about St. Patrick’s day and American culture. After the acoustic songs the band made their way back to the main stage during Andy Hurley’s drum solo and then jumped into Dance Dance much to the crowd’s delight. The main part of the set was then topped off with Just One Yesturday, I Don’t Care and their epic comeback single My Songs Know What You Did In The Dark (Light Em Up).
One of my personal highlights was at the start of the encore where the band played the concluding Save Rock And Roll’s title track. I already regarded the song as one of the best on the album but after seeing it live it has become one of my favourites in the band’s entire catalogue. The songs live performance was made even more epic with a video montage on the back screen showing past photos of various rock ‘n’ roll legends through the ages that included The Who, The Rolling Stones, The Beatles, Michael Jackson, Steview Wonder, Nirvana and more. This was to emphasis what the song and whole album was trying to get across with remembering everything great that rock ‘n’ roll has brought to the world and also nurturing and preserving the whole culture. After an grand start to the encore the band went on to play Thnks fr th Mmrs which was greeted by one of the most lively and energetic crowd reactions of the night. The set was then concluded by another one from their first album in the form of Saturday much to the delight of the old school fans.
The 7 year wait was certainly worth it and I came out of the venue having a certain feeling of having attended one of the best shows I’ve been to for a while. It was thoroughly enjoyable and lived up to all expectations and more. It also rekindled the reasons of why I first got into listening to Fall Out Boy and has once again put them near the top of my favourite artists list. The band will be sub-headlining Download Festival this summer on Saturday 14th June at DoningtonPark and will be one not to miss over the course of the weekend. After seeing them at the arena I look forward to seeing them a second time around.