Papa Roach @ o2 Academy, 17th March 2015

Papa Roach @ o2 Academy, 17th March 2015Papa Roach @ o2 Academy, 17th March 2015Papa Roach @ o2 Academy, 17th March 2015Papa Roach @ o2 Academy, 17th March 2015Papa Roach @ o2 Academy, 17th March 2015Papa Roach @ o2 Academy, 17th March 2015Papa Roach @ o2 Academy, 17th March 2015

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You can’t help but admire Papa Roach; 15 years on from the release of their triple-platinum, career-shaping album Infest and more than 20 years since they formed, they’re still touring, still pulling big crowds, still putting out albums and still writing great songs. They survived the fall out from the popping of the nu metal bubble and have turned themselves into an essential modern rock band. Now, two years on from their last UK run (save for a quick stop last summer to rock the Reading and Leeds weekend), they’re back in Birmingham to prove they can still put in a great rock show.

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From the moment they launch into F.E.A.R – the title track from their excellent ninth album released earlier this year – it’s clear Papa Roach are very much still at the top of their game. Crowd surfers appear straight away, the choruses are sang back at a great volume and the place is rocking. Anyone in the Academy who might not have been singing along from the off soon was, as classic cuts Getting Away With Murder and Between Angels and Insects swiftly follow to a delirious response – talk about having them eat out of the palm of your hand!

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When it comes to playing live, you can always depend on Papa Roach to not just deliver, but show you exactly how it should be done, and tonight is no exception. With the driving rhythm section of Tony Palermo and Tobin Esperance sitting underneath the crisp guitar playing of Jerry Horton, they are a tight, powerful unit. But it’s their frontman Jacoby Shaddix who really steals the show, who is constantly moving from side to side, bringing the crowd into things and generally leading from the front.

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At times he might come across as something of a caricature of a rock singer, but this is a stage persona he’s had for years and it hasn’t done him too badly thus far. Above all else, he is an entertainer; you don’t dare take your eyes off him, you can’t help but sing along with him and he orchestrates the show perfectly.

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Tonight’s setlist is a greatest hits selection pulled from their entire career, and what a fine list it is too. New cuts such as Broken As Me and Warrior sound great live, while older tunes like Blood Brothers, Broken Home and Hollywood Whore all still sound full of punch and vitality. When you have a back catalogue as strong as Papa Roach does, it must be easy to pick a setlist of crowd pleasers, but they still have to played with passion, which is something the band has in abundance.

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The stomping Still Swinging brings the main part of the set to a close, before one a hell of an encore rounds the night off wonderfully; first, the still wonderful mega hit Last Resort, before the epic Scars and a rousing finale of …To Be Loved brings them home. Papa Roach are still important and still one of the best live bands you could wish to see.

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They’ve come through a lot, with the odd bruise or two to show for it, but you can see from the look of all four members that they still have the passion and desire to keep going. They look here to stay, which – judging by the adoration of the crowd here tonight – is no problem whatsoever.


Review and photos – Dave Musson

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