The Together Again Tour sees the return of Bowling For Soup to the UK with Simple Plan and Not Ur Girlfrenz accompanying them. Not Ur Girlfrenz are a trio of young ladies aged only around 14 and 15 who on this tour have the task of opening the night and in all honesty I can’t fault their performance. They engaged with the crowd, got the people involved and built up the vitality in the room. What more can you ask of an opening band?
Waiting for Simple Plan you could feel the energy from the eagerly awaiting fans who were so pumped they were singing along and even cheering for the variation of noughties pop punk and emo music that was being played over the speakers. The feeling in the room only intensified as the lights went down and Simple Plan took their place on the stage. With a set list full of their older songs including hits such as Anything, Shut Up, Addicted and I’m Just a Kid the crowd went wild. The fans were already mega hyped but when the band started asking if we knew which band wrote the theme tune for What’s New Scooby Doo the entire room (which was obviously full of adults I might add) went insane as the theme tune for the kids TV show was played.
“Bowling For Soup. Hey! Bowling For Soup. Hey!…” A familiar chant to anyone who has seen Bowling For Soup in the past and as the fans chanted along it was clear there were not many first timers in the crowd; that being said it will have been the first time a lot of those fans have seen the band since bass player and one of the bands founding members Erik Chandler left, Rob Felicetti of Patent Pending took on the role. Rob with his humour and on stage banter fits in perfectly with the rest of the band.
Bowling for Soup had only played sucker punch but the fans were already putty in their hands. Following the usual hands in the air, cheer after me sort of requests but being the band that they are, it was never going to just be the usual requests and it was quite something to see an entire mosh pit behave like wacky inflatable flailing arm guys!
We were only at song number two, High School Never Ends and already there was a confetti explosion over the mosh pit, this was to be the first of a few. Having seen Bowling For Soup a fair few times I was surprised to hear brand new song Alexa Bliss in their set as these days, in their words, they usually stick with the “old shit” because they know that’s what the fans want. The song about WWE star Alexa Bliss had gone viral after they posted it online so of course it was going to be an absolute hit when they played it live.
It is well known that Bowling For Soup gigs are full of the band joking with each other, its like a comedy show as well as a music gig. Tonight we had the ‘Bowling For Soup Comedy Jam’ where the band members took turns to tell what can only be described as dad jokes. They did get a lot of laughs, despite the quality of the jokes! The next song that saw more confetti was the absolute classic Girls All The Bad Guys Want, this is the song that got Bowling For Soup noticed over here and is always a massive hit with the fans.
The band, although known for their upbeat and often humorous songs do have more serious songs and with cello player James Stant (who we became familiar with after he joined Jaret on his Heartache and Hilarity solo tour) joining them onstage. Jaret introduced their song as the ballad for the evening and they proceeded to play When We Die. Keeping with the seriousness for the time being Jaret, who is very open about his personal struggles, let us know that its OK to ask for help if we aren’t feeling OK and that we aren’t alone when we are feeling that way. He asked anybody who has never had these feelings to be good listeners and told us all to look out for each other. Its an important message and fair play to Jaret for using his platform to get it across to people. They went on to play a cover of Blue October’s HRSA with messages of love and positivity being displayed on the big screens behind them, It was rather emotional.
Getting straight back to classic Bowling For Soup they lifted the room right back up with their “final song” Punk Rock 101 which saw yet more confetti exploding over the crowd! As always the band stopped the show part way through Punk Rock 101 for the official Bowling For Soup Photo Opportunity where they pose together as a band on different parts of the stage giving people the chance to take a decent photo of them before they break out straight back where they left off into Punk Rock 101 with sparklers firing out high above the stage.
Of course we all knew they’d be back onstage in a minute, as guitarist Chris Burney said the encore is an over used bit that all bands have been using for years and years. This was to be a two song encore, first came yet another Bowling For Soup classic, 1985 and then we were treated to a song that in all of the times I have seen them I have never heard live – A Really Cool Dance Song.
The combination of the hyped up fans, the atmosphere in the room, a rarely performed song and sparklers and streamers made for an absolutely epic finale!
Reviewer: Gemma Bywater
Photographer: Shaz Rafferty