This is the first night of McFly’s ‘Up Close and This Time it’s Personal’ tour and the Wolverhampton Civic absolutely rammed with teenage girls. Once again I must take my hat off to the Birmingham Live! team — I’m in the front row of the balcony seating, directly above the sound desk. I’ve got a perfect, unobstructed view of the stage.
American Idol runner-up David Archuleta was scheduled to be the support act on all dates for this tour but as the clock ticks past 8pm it’s pretty obvious he’s not here. Whatever the reason, in his place stands Alex Roots. A pretty, blonde-haired vocalist backed by a keyboard, drums and guitar, she’s performs with confidence and experience far beyond her 16 years. Considering this is “the biggest crowd [she’s] ever played to” she copes extremely well. Her music has a very happy, poppy style and she works the crowd like she’s been doing this for years. Her songs aren’t the deepest and subjects such as her love for food (Calorie Junkie) leave much to be desired on the lyrical front. There’s no faulting her effort though and, ultimately, her songs are perfect for the youthful audience.
After the solitary support act leaves the stage the air fills with oestrogen and an unbelievable sense of anticipation. McFly’s roadies take their time getting the sound perfect and, unfortunately for myself (with a young girl sat just behind my right ear), each note of the sound check is greeted by intense screams from the majority of the audience. By the time the roadies finish their job and McFly actually grace the stage I am half deaf.
As the curtains are flung open I am greeted by one of the most brilliantly bizarre stage setups I have ever seen — toxic waste barrels adorn the stage, along with huge ventilation fans in honour of the band’s new album, ‘Radio:ACTIVE’. McFly launch into ‘One For The Radio’ and it is quite clear that this crowd absolutely adore them. The chorus kicks in and hundreds of fists punch the air, screaming “we don’t care” along with their idols. The mass of mobile phones and cameras held in the air paint a rainbow quite stunning when viewed from the balcony.
The only thing marring a great night of entertainment is, as usual, overly safety-conscious bouncers. One tries to ruin two young girls’ fun by telling them they can’t hang their banner over the balcony edge. This kind of thing is ridiculous and just conspires to turn a perfect evening sour. Thankfully, the girls aren’t perturbed and are singing and dancing along again in no time.
To be honest, McFly strike me as having grown up a little bit. No longer do they look like kids; Danny, Tom, Dougie and Harry could almost pass as young men these days. They play their instruments with the utmost conviction — the bass and drums are very tight and the guitar solos thrown in by Tom and Danny show that McFly aren’t just another boy band rolled off the production line completely devoid of talent.
Other than the expected Busted comparisons, massive similarities can be seen between tonight’s headliners and the Beach Boys. This is most evident in ‘Do Ya’, as Dougie, Danny and Tom power out some cracking vocal harmonies. With four studio albums behind them, I’m sure McFly would count themselves as a lot more successful than many of their compatriot bands in the same genre.
McFly’s newer songs are a lot heavier, with a much more Nickelback-esque rock sound shown in songs like ‘Corrupted’. It is here where the band really start to get into things and it is clear this is the direction they would like to take things in the future.
Earlier in the set, the band announced their plan to decide upon England’s best city — by ordering a pizza and seeing how quickly it could be delivered to the stage. This was certainly unique in my experience of gigs and the audience seemed to find it a riot. 23 minutes later a timid Domino’s delivery boy edges onto the stage. After handing over the pizza and being paid he leaves, with McFly inviting two lucky girls onto the stage to eat the food. They’ve set up a sofa on stage so that the girls can sit and eat pizza while inches from the band. They are absolutely the envy of the majority of the crowd, including myself — it’s 10pm and I’m yet to have dinner. I could really do with an extra large Texas BBQ pizza!
Despite the fact I’m a not-so-closet McFly fan, this gig really has exceeded all expectations. McFly are as tight as possible and every member played with a smile on their face. I leave in no doubt that everybody in the Civic tonight has been thoroughly entertained.
One For The Radio
Falling In Love
Room On The 3rd Floor
Down Goes Another
All About You
The Last Song
5 Colours In Her Hair
Review – Jack McCormick
Photos – Shaz R