After almost 2 years since their last UK tour tonight was highly anticipated. Although playing in the smaller Academy 3, this tour was set out to be an up close and personal tour with the adapt name ‘Close Encounter’ tour. As I arrived I saw many of the regular devoted fans but there was also a new crowd of the younger generation, which was lovely to see.
As the crowd started flowing in the first band came on. Rhesus a 4-piece band, never really got the crowd going and the band themselves looked bored. The girl bassist didn’t look like she had even thought of an outfit for the night wearing what one could only call an ‘office top’ with her hair scraped back and no make up. The drummer spent the entire set looking like he was going to pass out and the remaining two members of the band were very static. Eventually they left much to the delight of most of the crowd.
The next band on Allbright didn’t have much competition to be better than the previous band and having never heard them before I was intrigued to hear them. A 5 piece pop punk band from our hometown of Birmingham they set out energetically and immediately got the crowd entertained and joining in. By mid-set they had got a nice little mosh pit going in the middle and the lead singer ‘Liam’ spent the whole time having a laugh and a joke to keep the audience smiling. Although they were missing some of their actual band members (being replaced for the night by friends) the crowd could tell they had put a lot of effort into making a great set.
During the break I spoke to a lady who had a tattoo for every Army of Freshmen album which was rather impressive and we discussed the set list which we could see on the floor of the stage and we both agreed it would have been nicer if they played some of their older songs but it still seemed like a good list.
After what seemed like an eternity, Army of Freshmen burst onto the set receiving an uproar from the crowd as they did so. Army of Freshmen, an electric pop punk explosion from California have 6 members including 2 keyboard players to contribute to their unique sound. They kicked off with ‘Don’t Fall asleep tonight’ from their 5th album ‘Above the Atmosphere’, during which Chris, the lead singer moved the speakers so he could jump between the stage and the crowd every two seconds which the crowd were only too pleased for him to do. Halfway through the set however, something unexpected happened and Chris started to ask for requests for songs instead of obeying to the list! The crowd went wild at this and people were shouting songs from all across the floor and whichever one they heard loudest they played, which was awesome. It meant my wish of them playing older songs came true, heaven!
Once they had done 3 or 4 requests they asked who was the youngest person in the crowd. What Chris hadn’t noticed was a little boy around the age of 10 has snuck in front of the barriers and was sitting in between the two so he could see the band, at this point everyone in the crowd pointed at him and Chris laughed and got him up on stage to request a song, poor thing looked like he was in shock but as he left the stage he was grinning from ear to ear. Liam from Allbright came on stage to help with a song shortly after this and received a warm welcome back from the crowd. After what had felt like only 2 minutes the band were coming to the end of their energetic upbeat dancing set and played one of the first songs I remember hearing, ‘Get Um Up’. During this song Allbright reappeared on set and Dan and Owen (AOF) did solos on their keyboards.
I took a video of this so please watch it to understand the madness of the night!
After less than 5 minutes of chanting ‘AOF’ the band reappeared to play one more song… or if you were listening to Chris’s nonsense chatter it was ‘1 more song, 1 more song, 2 more songs, 2 more songs’, all the way up to 10 when he said ‘Nah 1 more!’ with his signature cheeky grin.
For their encore song they played another all time favourite, ‘Spring break’ which had the entire crowd going crazy bouncing up and down as well as the band!
After the gig something strange happened, hardly anyone left. As they had finished 15 minutes before curfew they decided the best thing to do was to go meet fans and sign autographs and sell everything off which just made everyone extremely happy including two of my friends that hadn’t heard the band before tonight who ran off straight after the set to go get some money to buy c.d’s and t-shirts! As 11 o clock hit the crowd realised all good things must come to an end and the security started moving the crowds out of the venue but everyone leaving, left with a happy smiley face. All in all this in my opinion out of the 200+ bands I’ve seen, this was one of the best gigs and I encourage anyone and everyone to see these guys when they come back.
Review, photos & videos – Shaz Rafferty