Forever Came Calling + Handguns@ The Exchange, Stoke 12th September 2018

Due to a lack of Birmingham show, the Birmingham Live bus took a road trip up to Stoke on Trent on Wednesday evening to catch a joint headline tour between US pop punk bands Forever Came Calling & Handguns.

Opening the show were South Wales pop punk band Junior, who opened to a pretty much empty room apart for band and crew. For this reason, the show felt more like a sound check than an actual show, some would consider it intimate and exciting or perhaps some would cite it as disappointing. Despite that, it’s clear that there’s a reason the band are featured so regularly on UK pop punk shows and that’s because they’re bloody good. I’ll be looking forward to catching them again in the future, hopefully to a few more people. 

Next up was Val Astaire, the solo moniker of Major League’s Brian Anthony Joyce, who decided to do this tour completely solo with the aid of backing track behind him. Largely electronic based tracks anyway, the set worked well and sounded much better than you would expect. 

On reflection the inclusion of some local support acts would have worked well for this show if not just to get more punters into the room, as by the time that Forever Came Calling took to the stage I estimate there was about 6 people with tickets. 

Acting as a rotating headline tour, on Wednesday evening it came down to Forever Came Calling to play first in promotion of the recently self-released EP Retro Future. Forming in 2006, the band have released two records on Pure Noise Records and it’s clear from their performance that the group absolutely love playing live. Bassist John Swaba was totally lost in the performance whilst drummer Bryce Esquivel goofed around pulling some highly interesting faces. Tracks such as ‘Front Porch Sunrise’ and ‘Ides’ sounded as exciting as when they were first released.

Finally, to headline the evening were pop punk band Handguns, who haven’t released new material since their record Disenchanted back in 2015. Despite this, the band put on a fantastic performance full of energy, passion and emotion that really took the evening to a new level. The current line up of the band sees lead vocalist Taylor Eby joined by members that had previously left the band in 2012 or earlier. However, the band played tracks from their entire discography including personal favourite ‘Porch Light’, and it’s clear that the band are passionate about their return and I’m sure it won’t be long until you see them return to bigger stages on these shores.

Reviewer:  Dan Earl

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