The increasingly popular tradition of bands that have outgrown clubs putting together stacked bills to give themselves a fair crack at arena tours has given us some incredible tours in recent times. And whoever booked the line-up for A Day To Remember’s jaunt around the UK’s needs to give themselves a solid pat on the back. No other tour this year will have a bill this well rounded, and that’s quite a claim for the third week of January. Naturally Already Heard was there to witness the run’s final night at Leeds’ First Direct Arena.
Not all that long ago Moose Blood were one of the best kept secrets in British music, THE breakout band in waiting. And if there was ever any proof that the cat is well and truly out of the bag on this one, it was watching Eddy Brewer and the lads owning a packed arena like it was the most natural thing in the world. ‘Gum’ and ‘Bukowski’, although written to be played in sweaty clubs, both sound magnificent with their refrains ringing around such a large space. While closer ‘Knuckles’ serves as a timely reminder the band are only getting better and that it’s not unthinkable that one day they might be playing spaces this size in their own right. (4/5)
Regardless of if you think they are the saviours of U.K. Pop-punk, or just an irksome parody of the genre, there’s really no denying that today’s alternative youth bloody love a bit of Neck Deep. Between the heroes welcome Barlow and co receive and the engaging, interaction packed set they deliver, you’d be forgiven for mistaking this for their own headline set. The Wrexham outfit have developed into the prototype of the arena bothering pop-punk outfit, irrepressible, engaging and relentlessly energetic. ‘Kali Ma’ and ‘Can’t Kick Up The Roots’ kick up a storm on the floor of the arena and rapidly get the younger sections of the crowd losing their minds with joy. Later the forced sentiment of ‘A Part Of Me’ earns a singalong with just as much gusto of the pits for the faster numbers. (3.5/5)
Lets get one thing straight, New Found Glory are one of the absolute greatest pop-punk outfits of all time. But something about the NFG of 2017 didn’t quite click here. With a minimal back line and stage set up, and an even more minimal amount of crowd interaction, the veterans come across as a mite anonymous and lost in the arena setting.
A hit filled and career spanning setlist did suitably warm up the older members of the audience, the likes of ‘Hit and Miss’, the ‘Kiss Me’ cover and biggest hit ‘My Friends Over You, all get the sort of reception they deserve, albeit mostly from the seated areas. The kids in standing giving each song a suitably polite cheer in the right places, but it’s far from the reckless abandon you’d expect from a typical NFG show. It seemed those young ‘uns rather quickly cottoned on to the sad reality that, live at least, Neck Deep deliver the New Found Glory style of pop-punk better then the former masters do themselves. With a bit of luck and (hopefully) a second live guitarist to fill out the sound, NFG will be back on top form for their 20th anniversary UK tour later in the year. (3/5)
Having conquered academy-sized venues and set foot in a couple of arenas, it is only natural for A Day To Remember to make the step up to UK arena’s permanently. And do it without any hesitation. With six albums worth of material to choose from, tonight shows how many mosh-made bangers ADTR have in their arsenal. While you might expect them to lighten up on bigger stages, they soon reassure us this isn’t the case as ‘Mr. Highway’s Thinking About The End’, ‘Paranoia’ and ‘2nd Sucks’ provide a hat-trick of heavy hitters straight from the start.
Without a doubt ADTR are here to have a good time. ‘Right Back at It Again’ and ‘I’m Made of Wax, Larry, What Are You Made Of?’ highlights the band’s pop-punk tendencies, as frontman Jeremy McKinnon is commanding with his soaring melodies, piercing screams and overall presence. Longtime fan favourites ‘Have Faith In Me’, My Life for Hire’ and ‘Homesick’ are sliced in between newer cuts such as ‘We Got This’, ‘Justified’ and ‘Naivety’, before the main portion of the set comes to close with a gigantic one-two punch of brilliant heavy pop-punk with ‘All I Want’ and ‘The Plot to Bomb the Panhandle’.
Smart phones light up the arena as McKinnon and guitarist Kevin Skaff return for the bittersweet ‘If It Means a Lot to You’ before being joined by the remaining members to end the night with the anti-hometown anthem ‘All Signs Point to Lauderdale’ and the chugging stomper that is ‘The Downfall of Us All’.
With a sub-headline slot on Download Festival’s main stage just announced, on tonight’s evidence ADTR are ready to conquer Donington. The strength of their songs show they can unite big crowds with ease, while the use of fitting screen graphics, smoke cannons and entertaining props (inflatable animals, dozens of toilet roll and even a guy dressed as ‘Stone Cold’ Steve Austin firing out t-shirts) adds icing to this “mosh-punk” juggaurnaut. (4.5/5)
Words by Dane Wright. Photos by Sam Haines and taken at SSE Arena, Wembley, London – 27/01/2017.