Live Review: The Wonder Years, Maycomb & Gnarwolves – The Peel, Kingston – 24/04/2012

The last time The Wonder Years played The Peel was in support of ‘The Upsides’, their second album which cemented their place as one of pop-punk’s hottest prospects. Tonight they are playing the second of two headline shows at the venue, a celebratory performance of the critically acclaimed ‘Suburbia, I’ve Given You All and Now I’m Nothing’ in its’ entirety. 

Opening up proceedings tonight are Gnarwolves, who apart from having the coolest band name ever, are a pretty good live band as well. Offering a sound that sits somewhere between Spraynard and Laterman, their short but energetic set is well received by the crowd members who have turned up early. 

Up next are Maycomb, a band who may be familiar to long time fans of The Wonder Years, having supported the band on previous UK tours. They reprise their supporting role tonight to great effect. After initially apologising for “not being The Swellers” (the band who supported at Monday night’s sold out show) they kick into a rousing set. Whilst they may not reinvent the pop-punk wheel, Maycomb deliver a solid half hour of fun to an ever-swelling crowd and look confident in doing so. 

Five minutes before The Wonder Years come on, the audience seemingly doubles in size and the stage is set for a special night indeed.  As the opening chords and familiar drumbeat of ‘Came Out Swinging’ kick in, the crowd explode into a frenzy of moshing, crowd-surfing and stage diving that doesn’t relent all night. ‘Local Man Ruins Everything’ is delivered with supreme passion, and is responded to in kind, as a packed room screams “I’m not a self help book, I’m just a fucked up kid” back at the band.

Slower numbers such as ‘Suburbia’ and ‘I’ve Given You All’ offer not only a reflective moment for the whole room, but a chance to hear songs that are not usually in the band’s touring repertoire, which the crowd relish. Soupy is in top form tonight and has a lively involvement with the crowd throughout, a trait that is so loved in this band. 

As the last notes of ‘And Now I’m Nothing’ fade away to raucous applause, the band can’t resist an encore of fan favourites. A quartet of older songs follows; ‘Melrose Diner,’ ‘You’re Not Salinger, Get Over It’, ‘Hostels and Brothels’ and ‘Washington Square Park’ and they provide a exclamation point to this triumphant show. Whilst it has been made clear tonight that ‘Suburbia…’ is a brilliant record, the encore serves as a reminder that the rest of the band’s material isn’t half bad either. It’s clear that the only way is up for The Wonder Years as everyone’s favourite underdogs produce a show that people will be talking about for a long time. 

Words by Tom White

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