The rise, rise and rise of Neck Deep continues to be an astonishing and inspiring story. With their latest album ‘Life’s Not Out To Get You’ pushing them even further into the stratosphere and the future more than likely holding rooms bigger than the one they are playing tonight, the band roll into London Town to a sold-out Forum with so much to celebrate and the intent to prove that they are more than just a worldwide hype machine.
First up though are Light Years who put everything into their 25 minutes as the centre of attention. Playing with a sense of cheeky indifference and having a handful of expertly and infectiously moulded pop punk songs to their name in the form of ‘Are You Sure’ and ‘Living In Hell’, the band win over the hearts of the early punters while also expelling some of their broken-hearted demons. (4/5)
Creeper follow and look poised to continue their rise from scene adversity to genuine world-beaters. Flowing with confidence and prowess, the sextet deliver a set that is big on the energy and even bigger on the bangers. Old cuts ‘VCR’ and ‘Gloom’ stand up against the developed and darker sounds of new tunes ‘Black Mass’ and ‘Lie Awake’ and have the crowd before them in the palm of their hands. Finishing on a beautifully eerie ‘Henley’s Ghost’ there’s more and more proof with each show that Creeper are indeed the real deal. (4/5)
State Champs have been steadily rising in popularity since their stint on the road with 5 Seconds Of Summer last year and the reaction that greets them tonight shows how far their appeal has spread and could have been for a band topping this monster bill. Bounding around the stage like it belongs to them while still looking noticeably humbled at the number of people singing along, the band absolutely owns their time in the sun. With newer songs ‘Secrets’ and ‘All Or Nothing’ oozing pop sensibility into their set alongside the classic pop punk stylings of ‘Hard To Please’ and ‘Elevated’ State Champs show that they have the charisma and crowd control that could see them break through to the mainstream in a big way. (4.5/5)
Tonight belongs to one band though. Neck Deep know the gravity of the situation they found themselves in with a crowd this size but from the get-go they are simply flawless. From the moment a ballsy ‘Citizens Of Earth’ and rapturous ‘Losing Teeth’ triggers every pair of hands in the room to be held aloft in unified euphoria, the band don’t put a foot wrong. Ben Barlow has developed nicely into suitably electric frontman and even though the in-between song “banter” he provides is a little lacking, he makes sure he delivers the goods with his consuming stage presence and improved delivery. Things continue at a suitably lofty pace as ‘Gold Steps’ nearly takes the roof off, a throwback to the early days with ‘Over And Over’ throws some nostalgia into the mix and ‘Growing Pains’ reeks of adolescent adoration.
The fact that every single word launched from the stage is screamed back by almost every set of lips in the room is truly a testament to the strength of the songs that Neck Deep can pen. From teenage scene icons to well-worn rockers all the way through to just the group of lads out for the night, everybody in attendance tonight is on the same page of absolute devotion towards them, and there’s not many out there who can tick every box across the board. With the old school one-two of a blistering ‘What Do You Expect?’ and skin-tingling ‘A Part Of Me’ leading into a finale of an electric version of the teary eyed ‘December’ and the home comfort carnage of ‘Can’t Keep Up The Roots,’ Neck Deep cement this as a humongous victory. Their ascension to biggest band in the scene looks set to excel to biggest in the world, and with performances of this caliber they could be heading up even bigger, badder and more daunting venues across the planet before the year is out. Exceptional stuff. (5/5)
Words by Jack Rogers (@JackMRog)