Sunday 23 October 2016

7 shows in 6 days!

Lacey, Vanity Box, The Bottom Line, Bowling For Soup, Danny Gruff, Dave Giles, Buckcherry, Joe McCorriston and The Sticky Bandits
Nottingham, Dublin, Manchester, Birmingham, and Leeds
October 15th, 17th, 18th, 19th, 20th & 21st, 2016

October is always a busy month for concerts as many bands tour in this month following festival season, but this year has been a whole new level.  Earlier in the year Bowling for Soup announced that they would be supporting Steel Panther on their arena tour and we figured that we had October all sorted, but then more bands and shows have been announced and some days we have been spoilt for choice.  So with all these great bands to see, my sister and I booked the week off work and treated ourselves to a music packed holiday.

Starting our time off on Saturday we travelled down to Nottingham to see a special one off full band acoustic show by Lacey with special guests Vanity Box.

This show was at a small venue called Rough Trade which is situated above a record store in the centre of Nottingham.  It's a great little venue with makeshift table and chairs in one side and a standing area and stage in the other side of the room.  The  'bar' serves a range of coffee and hot drinks as well as a range of artisan beers and soft drinks. It also boasts a menu of vegetarian food and is the only venue I have ever had the chance to drink tea and eat cake whilst watching a band.

Opening tonight are Vanity Box who are an alternative indie rock band from Nottingham.  The band consists of Tom on vocals and guitar, Matthew on bass and vocals, Oliver on guitar and vocals and Paul on drums.

Vanity box had a very easy listening style and played a packed set of original material.  They had a great stage presence and a really smooth sound.  Although I wasn't familiar with their music I really enjoyed their set and found myself  tapping my feet along.

They also amazed me when they gave a shout out to Lacey's fan page admins, thanking them for their support and dedicating a song to them, as this is not something you usually get from a band, and especially when the fan page is not for that particular band.

I'll definitely be checking these guys out again as I'm interested to see how a full band electric set sounds in comparison with their acoustic set.  I think these guys may be one to keep an eye on.

Headlining was Lacey.  Lacey acoustic sets are usually something very special and tonight was no different.  

In a twist they decided to let the fans who purchased VIP tickets decide the set list giving each one of them the chance to submit one song request, and the VIPs chose well.

Their set consisted of 13 songs, (11 of which were chosen by the VIPs), which included songs from across their discography, from 'Lights Out' from their first EP 'What Use Is Wasting Time',  to 'Shadow' from 'I Don't Owe The World A Thing'; the EP they released earlier this year.  Songs from their 3rd EP 'Outlaws' and their debut album 'Under The Brightest Lights' had also been requested  for inclusion.  

However, we didn't just get a set of songs as the songs themselves had had an acoustic overhaul and had been reworked to make the performance even more special.

The acoustic nature of the show allowed the lyrics and delicate guitar melodies to stand out more than usual and Lacey's set was received with open arms.

Between the songs we were treated to plenty of on stage banter, which has been pretty absent from the boys performance for the last few months, and had been missed by fans as it allows the fans to see the genuine personalities and friendship between the boys. 

However, the highlight of my night was the look on Lacey's faces when the crowd sang 'Hometown' back at them.  The boys looked so happy to be up there and getting that kind of reaction from the crowd.

Although it was a small venue, it was packed to the rafters and everyone had a great time.  

Unfortunately, to date Lacey have not announced any more dates for this year but they are out on tour in early 2017.

The next show on our list was the 'extra' show that Bowling for Soup had slipped in to fill their day off from the Steel Panther tour.  As they had received complaints from fans that their last tour missed out Ireland they scheduled a one off show at the Academy in Dublin. 

A couple of weeks after their announcement they confirmed their support for this show as Lacey and The Bottom Line.  Anyone who has read my blog before will know that I have followed all three of these bands for quite a few years now so although it would mean travelling, planes, turbulence and around 45 hours without sleep, it was a no brainer!

The first set from the Dublin show came in the form of a Bowling For Soup VIP acoustic performance.  We have done the BFS VIP many times before and have always enjoyed it.  The VIP set consists of a couple of acoustic songs performed by Jaret and Erik and the chance to meet the whole band and get a group photograph with them. 

After the VIP session has finished you then get to stay in the venue and chose your space for the show before the general admission fans are allowed in.  We managed to get right on the front corner of the barrier and had a great view of the show for the whole night.

Opening in Dublin are pop punk quartet The Bottom Line, who set the bar so high we were unsure how Lacey and BFS would manage to follow them.  They were here to warm up the crowd and they did just that!

The Bottom Line played a jam packed set including 'I Still Hate You', 'Insecure' and 'Record Player', as well as a cheeky version of Wheatus' 'Teenage Dirtbag'.  

Throw in a little crowd surfing, in the form of lead singer Callum, and guitar twirling and they had the party well and truly started!

It is  clear to see how far The Bottom Line have come in the three years that I have been following them and tonight's show was the best show I have seen them play so far.

Next on the bill was Lacey.  Lacey also played a packed set showcasing songs from their debut album and current EP, including 'Hoax', 'Shadow' and 'Tonight'.   

Not to be outdone by their pop punk colleagues they also threw in a cover song, but this one was Blink 182's 'Dammit', which was well received and had the crowd singing along.

Unfortunately as Lacey feed from audience reaction and their style differs from that of their colleagues, there wasn't the opportunity for the crowd to jump around and join in, so the energy level in the room dropped slightly.  However, this wasn't a reflection on how Lacey played as they gave it their all and the audience seemed to really enjoy them, it was simply the difference in genre.

I have seen Lacey play many times and tonight they played the best set I've ever seen from them.

Surely after two amazing sets it couldn't get better could it?  As Bowling For Soup hit that stage with the opening song the crowd went crazy.

Another packed set followed with all of the Bowling for Soup hits, including 'The Bitch Song', 'Almost', 'Turbulence', 'Ohio', 'Belgium', 'High School Never Ends', 'Shut Up and Smile' and '1985'.  Not to be out done, they also played their 'cover' of 'Stacey's Mom', originally by Fountains Of Wayne, which, they decided to record as a cover a few years ago as they found they kept getting the credit for it.

As the main tour coincided with the release of their new album 'Drunk Dynasty', we were also treated to a performance of their first single from the new album 'Hey Diane'. 

It was clear to see that a lot of true fans had made the trip to Dublin, as the album was released on October 13th (the show being October 17th) and many of the crowd knew all the words to sing along.

No BFS show is complete without the onstage banter and tonight's had plenty of this.  Bowling For Soup also  helped Pete from Lacey celebrate his birthday in the form of a lap dance from 'Two Tonnes Of Fun' (a duo made up of guitar tech Tony Gattone and photographer and merch guy Marco Melina). The combination of music, banter and antics had the whole venue filled with laughter and music for the whole night.

Anyone who has attended a Bowling for Soup show before will know the meaning of the 'BFS musically enhanced photo opportunity'.  This is the part of the show where the guys take a little break from music and pose in different areas of the stage (to the sound track of Dave Lee Roth's 'Yankee Rose') and give the crowd their chance to get a good photo of them without the blurry bits of them playing!  It is also a good excuse for them to have a little break and consume some 'Delicious Gary's' (side note: if you ever get to try one of these, do as they really are delicious).

As the last note was played and the crowd was showered with ticker tape from the canons above the pit, the crowd were left totally exhilarated and hungry for more.  As they left the stage Bowling for Soup promised they would be back next year.

Those who were dedicated enough to hang around outside in the rain until load out, also had the chance to meet and mingle with all of the bands that night who were happy to chat and sign albums and posters. 

It may have been a long way to travel for three bands that I have seen countless times before, but it was so worth it!  All three bands put in fantastic performances and I would do it again in a heartbeat.   I have to say that the Dublin show is up there with my favourite all time shows. 

Tuesday night saw us picking up with Bowling for Soup at the Steel Panther tour in Manchester.  Unfortunately due to the weather and traffic we missed Buckcherry who were the first support.
I have to say that seeing Bowling for Soup play an arena was slightly surreal as (with the exception of Download Festival) we are used to seeing them in a far more intimate setting. 

Bowling for Soup however proved that they were not intimidated by the size of the venue and put on yet another fantastic performance. 

Although it was a support appearance Bowling for Soup played a good 50 minute set and packed it full of their hits. The set included 'The Bitch Song', 'Almost', 'Girl All The Bad Guys Want', 'Ohio', 'The theme to Phineas and Ferb', 'High School Never Ends', 'Punk Rock 101' and '1985', to name but a few.   

The crowd in Manchester received Bowling for Soup really well and the set was full of energy.  I had another great night enjoying the Bowling for Soup boys.

Next up should have been Steel Panther.  However, about a week ago, Danny Gruff and Dave Giles also announced a show in Manchester on this night and being fans of all three we were torn, so after the Bowling for Soup set we skipped out on Steel Panther and headed round the corner to Gulliver's pub to catch the end of Danny and Dave's show.

Danny and Dave had been set to tour with internet star Bry this week, but due to other commitments the tour was postponed.  However, Danny and Dave decided that as they had time allotted in their diaries  that they should still tour, and therefore they embarked on a week of house parties and pay what you want shows on the dates they would have been touring.

The pay what you want shows have been double headliner shows, and although the boys have mainly played their own material, they also  duetted on some of their songs, for example Dave joined Danny for 'Smile' and Danny joined Dave for 'I Am What I Am'.

The chemistry and friendship between Dave and Danny is evident as they sail through their set list effortlessly.  Even the matching cowboy shirts and new 'choreography' all enhance their performance.

Danny and Dave have always been good at crowd participation and their combined efforts tonight made it hard not to join in.  Whether you were flapping your hands to 'Smile',  free styling, adding the ba ba ba's to 'Bangarang' or singing along to the big choruses, you couldn't help but join in and laugh.

Watching Dave and Danny is like watching two best friends having fun in their living room as their friendship shines through the whole show.  I'm not sure they realise just how well matched their personalities are when they perform together. 

Ending with a fantastic cover of Tenacious D's 'Tribute', they left the crowd wanting more and questioning whether they had underpaid (although the pay what you want bucket was still there if you wanted to add a little more).

Whenever I go to see either Dave or Danny I leave with my cheeks aching from smiling and laughing so much, and tonight's show just made them ache even more than usual. 

I just hope that no one takes advantage of the pay what you want idea to get a free gig as these guys really deserve to do well from this tour. 

Wednesday night took us back to the Bowling for Soup tour but tonight's show was at the Barclaycard Arena in Birmingham.

I have only ever been to this arena once before and it was quite a long time ago, but now as a frequent gig goer I realised what a nice venue it is.  I'm not usually a big fan of arena shows as they are expensive and usually lack the atmosphere of smaller venues, but this arena is different. 

For a start this arena has its own car park attached to it, which we expected to be the usual sort of £15 - £20 that you would expect from a city/arena, so we were surprised when the parking only cost £6.50.

The arena itself was clean and well kept, and its concessions were reasonably priced as well as having a really good range of food, drink and sweets available. It is also the only arena that I have been to that had nice, clean, well kept toilets!

The arena floor itself seems smaller than some arenas (seating capacity 15,800), but it had a nice atmosphere and was a nice change from the ones I usually visit.

Tonight we managed to make it in time to see Buckcherry.  Buckcherry opened the show in style with a nice 7 song set, which included 'Out Of Line', 'Ridin', 'Gluttony' and a cover of 'Say Fuck It' (originally Icona Pop).

My only complaint with their set is that I was unable to make out what lead singer Josh Todd was saying between songs.

Finishing with 'Crazy Bitch', they left the crowd warmed up and ready for Bowling For Soup.

Considering the Bowling For Soup set consisted of the same songs as the night before, the show had a different feel tonight as the audience here were not just singing along but also dancing along. 

Bowling for Soup  have always been good at crowd participation and have now proved that they can also  get full participation on an arena sized scale, as it seemed that everyone was happy to join in with the 'spirit fingers/jazz           hands/wacky wavey inflatable man dance'.  

Everyone in attendance seemed to be having a whale of a time. 

Although they have proved that they have what it takes to command the audience in an arena setting, personally I really hope they stick to the smaller venues as it would cost me an absolute fortune, as I can never just see one show of a tour. As a long time fan it was nice to see them succeed on a grand scale.

By the time Bowling for Soup left the stage the chaos of the last few days had started to catch up with us so we skipped out on seeing Steel Panther again.

Over the last few days I've heard many  comments and have seen posts on Facebook and in Facebook groups saying that people thought Bowling for Soup were better than headliners Steel Panther.  
Something the Bowling for Soup boys should be really proud of.  

On Thursday we headed over to Leeds to the smallest venues we would be visiting this week. 
Tonight's show was an unsigned night at The Verve, which is a small bar in the city centre, and we went with the intention to watch solo artist Joe McCorriston who we discovered a few weeks ago when he was supporting Dave Giles.

Although five artists played I am only going to review Joe as I am aware of how long this blog post has become.  If you are still with me thank you.

Joe is a solo artist from the little northern town of Morecambe.  He writes catchy tunes with really relatable lyrics and a really down to earth style.

Tonight he played a 7 song set which included his latest single 'Alive', 'Broken Yo-yo' and my favourite song 'Cardboard Is Heavy Sometimes'. (

The last time I saw Joe play 'Broken Yo-yo' I was mesmerised with the way he played, as he seems to grow extra fingers when he plays this song, and again I found myself totally transfixed watching him play.
I really enjoyed Joe's set and can't wait for the next time I get to see him play. (Hopefully at his album launch in the new year). 

The last show on my list for this week was something entirely different and came in the form of the cover band The Sticky Bandits which is a side project of Danny Gruff and Dave Giles.  Tonight's show was at the Wharf in Manchester, which is quite a large pub hidden in the middle of a private housing estate. 

Usually I wouldn't review cover bands, but as it is Danny and Dave and a part of this crazy week, I decided to make an exception. 

The boys played two forty five minute sets and packed them full of great sing along songs including Spandau Ballet's 'Gold', Phil Collins' 'Easy Lover', The Spice Girls 'Wannabe', Beyonce's 'Crazy In Love', The theme to the Fresh Prince of Bel Air and an absolutely brilliant version of Mark Ronson's 'Uptown Funk' to name but a few.

Danny and Dave have a natural flow and understanding and it is evident whether they are doing their original material or covers.  Both of them have a natural charisma that shines through in their performance but when you get them together it takes it to a whole new level.  Tonight's show was fun and casual and the perfect way to end such a crazy week!

Next week I go back to work for a rest!

Photographs by Phil Procter, Marco Melina and myself

Monday 3 October 2016

'Are you really going to see them again?' 'Are you not sick of them yet?'

As an avid music fan who goes to see her favourite bands as often as possible there are two questions that I get asked a lot, but it was only when I was asked 'Are you not fed up of us yet?' by the singer  of one of my favourite bands that I sat down and really thought about it.....

You see anyone who has read my blog in the past will know how much I love music, gigs and bands and will know that I often see bands more than once on a tour and in some cases follow the whole tour, so whilst in hindsight I can see why I get asked this question so much,  I've never really been able to provide an answer.

For me a concert isn't just about the music or the band. Don't get me wrong they play a huge part in it but over the years I have made so many friends and acquaintances just because of the band I am there to see, that they also play a big role.  You see, if you follow a certain genre of music you will see the same faces at each and every show.  As you get to see these faces again and again you will start with a nod or a smile, and then it progresses to  hello and in some cases  you add each other on Facebook and even arrange to meet before the shows or between shows and friendships are formed.

Some are not quite as forthcoming and although they smile or say hi, you never quite get to the conversation stage and these guys tend to be known as 'Gig guy' or 'Awesome Tattoo Girl'. You may never have spoken properly but you know they are there for the exact same reason as you, and in that respect they become a kindred spirit.

I met some of my really good friends from a chance meeting at a show!

Then there are the fan communities. These are little communities that are set up (usually by fans or friends of a band) to support a certain band or artist.  I know in previous blog entries I have mentioned Patent Pending's Second Family, which is a worldwide community, Lacey's Outlaws and Ryan Hamilton's 'Traitors' which are smaller groups. 

However, some groups are known on a worldwide scale like Justin Beiber's 'Belibers', One Direction's  'Directioners', Lady Gaga's 'Little Monsters' and some of the bigger bands have communities that are  less recognised, like Stone Sour's 'Dead Generation', Slipknot's 'Outside The Nine' and 'Maggot Army', and  Guns and Roses 'Night Train'.

It doesn't matter what size these communities are you will always find like minded people who are just as passionate about that particular band, and many of these communities offer support and friendship with very little judgement.

Then there are the bands themselves.  In the current day and technological age bands are becoming more accessible.  When I was a kid you could only ever see your favourite band on the pages of a music magazine or on Top of The Pops.  Many concerts are 14+ so until you hit the golden age you couldn't even see them live, unless you got really lucky with an all ages show.  However in the current climate for social media you can now pick up your phone and tweet your favourite singer  or band and even stand a chance of getting a reply! 

A lot of bands seem to be seeing the interaction with their fans as useful too. Whether  it being to fund their album, create their setlist for tour or get suggestions of where fans would like them to tour and who they should tour with.  Bands and artists only have to hit their Facebook and twitter accounts to find out their fans views.

A lot of bands also seem to be  shunning the big record companies who build the walls between the record industry and the fans.  The bands are now recognising that their band is only as big as its fan base and are now choosing to break down the imposed walls and have more interaction with their fans. 

The pledge music platform is a perfect example as the bands can dispose of the major labels and their policies. The fans fund the album and in return get to pledge for exclusive goodies and quite often experience days with the band they are funding (for example studio days so they can experience an album being recorded and hang out with the band).  This platform also gives the band more say over how their album is made and what material is used, giving bands more scope to experiment and be creative.   I have done quite a few of these campaigns , in fact one of the bands I have pledged on is recording their album as I type.

Then there is the other important factor....the lynch pin and glue that brings it together....  the music itself. 

Hans Christian Anderson famously said 'When Words Fail, Music Speaks' and never a truer word has been said.  Music can provoke so many emotions and memories and has the ability to change your mood with one simple chorus.

Music is universal. It doesn't have a single language but it can unite people from all over the world. For example, if you've ever been to the opera you will know that you don't have to understand Italian to understand the story.  

Music isn't prejudiced and will allow anyone to listen to it, no matter who you are. It has a style to suit all tastes and all moods. In an age where you can stream songs from the internet you don't even have to have a lot of money to enjoy it and if you attend smaller shows you can get tickets for as little as £5, which is less than a packet of cigarettes and better for you!

Music is always there for me.  It can lift my spirits, console me and keep me company every time I need it. If I am down it can be sombre with me and if I'm happy it can make me dance and sing!
If ever you want an insight into someone, listen to the music they listen to. Hear the lyrics because they will tell you much more than that person ever will. 

I have quite a few friends who are musicians and when I miss them I am lucky enough to be able to put my earphones in and hear them, even when they are on the other side of the world.

Gig time is also my time.  It is my time to relax and just be in the moment for that short time.   It is a break from everyday life.  One of the greatest feelings is to be singing to your favourite song at the top of your lungs with like minded people, because in that moment you can be you, and all stresses and problems from everyday life are momentarily forgotten.  The whole experience just gives you a natural high.

I have been stood in the middle of a crowd in the pouring rain listening to a band and you become so engrossed in the music that you don't notice that you are soaked to your underwear, you don't notice the thousands of people stood around you, it's like that scene in the movie where everything else in the world stops. It is just you, the band and the music.

In a day and age where there are so many atrocities happening and where humanity has forgotten how to be human, is it such a crime to have a passion for something as innocuous as music.  At the end of the day I'm not hurting anyone by attending these shows and on the plus side I am supporting the artists.

On the flip side though I do describe my love of music as an addiction as I quite often find that I get withdrawal symptoms between shows and really bad post gig blues if I've done a stint of shows on a tour. 

The current online statistics report that 25% of the population suffers with some form of mental health issue and cases of depression and suicide are rising. More and more people are relying on anti depressants to get them through their daily life when all I need to get me through is music and the promise of my next concert.

So I guess the answer to the questions are that I go to concerts because it's good for my mental health!  It's a shame you can't get gig tickets on prescription!

Sunday 25 September 2016

Dave Giles, Joe McCorriston and Carl North

Dave Giles, Joe McCorriston and Carl North
September 9th, 2016
The Kings Arms, Salford, Manchester

For me a good night out at a concert is always a must and tonight promised to be just that as Dave Giles announced he would be playing an intimate show at the Kings Arms in Salford.

The Kings Arms is not a venue I had ever been to before.  It is an oddly shaped pub on a corner plot, hidden two thirds of the way up Bloom Street, which is off the beaten track and not a place you are likely to just stumble over.   It has a lovely bar area down stairs and a small theatre upstairs.  

Tonight's gig was in the theatre part of the building, which boasted a small tiered seating area and an enormously high ceiling.

Kicking the night off was Carl North although originally from Derby he now resides in Manchester.  Like all of the acts tonight he was performing solo but he had the job of warming up the crowd for the other two performers.

As Carl took the stage I settled back to casually listen to a few songs, but I wasn't prepared for what I was about to hear because when he opened his mouth he blew me away!  Carl is possibly one of the best blues vocalists I have ever heard, and although I didn't know the songs as he sang original material and a cover song that I wasn't familiar with, I thoroughly  enjoyed his set.  

My only disappointment was that he didn't have CD's for sale as I could have happily listened to him again.

Next up was Joe McCorriston from Morecambe.   Although I don't live too far from him and tonight was his 500 show, he is not an artist that I had come across until today but again I wasn't disappointed.  Joe has a fantastic voice and  quirky lyrics, but I have to admit that when he played 'Broken Yo-yo' I was unable to take my eyes off his fingers as he demonstrated some amazing guitar work during that piece. (It was almost as if he had grown extra fingers!)

Luckily Joe did have CD's for sale after the show and I went away with one knowing that I will probably be making a trip to Morecambe when he next plays there. 

Headlining tonight was Dave Giles, the tall, barefoot, hat loving singer from Essex.  I've seen Dave a few times now and have always really enjoyed his shows.  Tonight was no different.

Just before his set started he set up his phone so that he could live stream the set to his many followers and friends on Facebook. (A week or so before the show Dave live streamed one f his rehearsals and he was on air for two and a half hours)

Dave started the night with 'The Brew Song', which is one of my favourites from his discography.  He then went on to play pretty much every song that was requested as well as many others

Dave managed to play all of my favourites  including 'Whisky and Wings', 'I am What I Am' and 'The Girl Who Said Yes'.

He also slipped in a great cover version of Katy Perry's 'Roar'.

Dave has a great voice and his songs have relatable lyrics. I know I have reviewed his sets a couple of times before on my blog and I have always given him a good review as he is a great performer, and as he proves at every show, he just gets better each time..

If you have never checked him out head over to YouTube and check out 'Bangarang'.  This is always his finale song and my other favourite from his collection.  I guarantee you will fall in love with this song (and probably Dave).

Monday 22 August 2016

So Long, Farewell Tour

Motion City Soundtrack, Dinosaur Pile Up, The Xcerts and Lacey
Manchester O2 Ritz and Birmingham O2 Institute
August 17th and 18th, 2016

Motion City Soundtrack are a band that have been on my 'to see' list for a few years now. I've heard so many people rave about how great they are but I never actually got round to seeing them, so when they announced their final tour I knew that it was now or never!

The tour then got even better as they announced support from Dinosaur Pile Up, The Xcerts and Lacey.  Now the tour was an absolute must!

I booked tickets for both the Manchester and Birmingham shows, and although I would have loved to go to the London show my finances just wouldn't stretch that far.

First up each night was Lacey.  Any regular visitors to this blog know that I have seen Lacey many times and they never fail to put on a good show. 

Lacey hail from Nottingham and consist of Graham on vocals, Dave on drums,  and Josh, Pete and Pete on guitar.

Although they had a relatively short set, they managed to cram it full with songs from their latest EP; 'I Don't Owe The World A Thing'.  

Starting with 'Hoax' they started with a bang and the energy and performance continued right the way through the set, which also included  'Ghost While I'm Alive' and 'Take Me Home'.

We also got an exclusive of their new song 'Carry Me On My Way', which was played for the very first time at the Manchester show and a cheeky cover of Blink 182's 'Dammit', before they ended with 'Shadow'.

I've seen many performances by Lacey and these two shows, although short sets,  were definitely their best performances to date.    These guys seem to get better and better each time I see them, and after hearing the new song I'm looking forward to hearing what they have in store for us with album number two.

Next up were The Xcerts from Aberdeen,  who are a trio made up of Murray on vocals and guitar, Jordan on bass  and Tom on drums. 

I had been introduced to the Xcerts by a friend a few weeks ago and after hearing their album was really looking forward to hearing them. 

Although they also had a short set, they managed to squeeze a whopping seven songs into it, including 'Live Like This', 'Kids On Drugs', 'I Don't Care', 'He Sinks, She Sleeps', 'Slackerpop' and my favourite 'Shaking In The Water', which I loved on the album and loved even more live.

Finishing with 'There Is Only You', they left me wanting to hear more and wondering how come the first two bands were over so quickly.

Third on the bill was Leeds based band Dinosaur Pile Up, comprising of Matt on vocal and guitar, Michael on drums and Jim on bass.

These guys describe themselves as post grunge and do have a very grunge feel about them.

This set again was a short set containing only 7 songs, including 'Arizona Waiting', 'Peninsula', Grim Valentine', 'White T-shirt and Jeans', 'Might As Well', 'Friend of Mine' and '11:11'.

Although I wasn't as familiar with this band I still really enjoyed their set and by the second show I knew I would have a trip to the record store and would most likely be seeing them again when I got the chance. 

Headlining tonight were American rock band Motion City Soundtrack, from Minnesota.

On the 11 March 2016, Motion City Soundtrack posted a simple message on their Facebook page explaining to fans that 'for now we are done'.

Following demand they are embarking on their farewell tour which is taking them across many states and countries, and this week they played their final three dates in the UK.

Consisting of Justin on Vocals and guitar, Joshua on guitar, Jesse on keyboards, Matthew on bass and Tony on drums, the quintet have had almost twenty years in the industry.

Motion City Soundtrack kicked their set off with 'Back To The Beat' and a whole heap of energy, which was maintained right the way through their set.

Once they took to the stage it became evident why the other three bands had only had short slots as they knocked out song after song including 'It Had To Be You', 'When You're Around', 'My Favourite Accident', 'A Life Less Ordinary (Need A Little Help)' and 'Everything is Alright' to name but a few.
Motion City Soundtrack managed to squeeze a massive 20 songs into their main set and a further three in the encore, ensuring fans heard at least one of their  favourite songs.

Finishing with 'Anything At All', 'Even If It Kills Me' and 'The Future Freaks Me Out', they left the crowd wondering why a band this good would be calling it a day.

It's a shame that the UK leg of the tour was only for three days as I would have happily watched all four bands night after night on a longer run. Although I may never get the chance to see Motion City Soundtrack play live again, the tour has led me to discover Dinosaur Pile Up and The Xcerts, who I will definitely be checking out the next time they are in town.  As for Lacey, I have already booked tickets for their next show.

Sunday 21 August 2016

Danny Gruff House Party Tour

Danny Gruff House Party Tour
Leeds and Mansfield
August 12th and 15th, 2016

A couple of months ago Danny Gruff announced via his Facebook page that he would be interested in doing a house party tour and asked for anyone who would be happy to host to get in touch.  I'm not sure he was quite expecting the response he got and two weeks ago embarked on his tour which saw him playing 24 shows in 11 days.

I would have absolutely loved to have hosted one of his parties but as my house is around the size of a shoe box I would not have been able to invite anyone and it would have been a waste of Danny's time.  I was lucky though as two of my friends had offered their houses to him and I was invited to both.

The first of the two was party number 10 on Danny's itinerary and was at Pam and Michael's in Leeds. 

Having been to a few house parties before I knew what to expect and was looking forward to a great but intimate show, and I wasn't disappointed.  Danny had asked each host to submit a list of requests from their guests so he would have a varied set list for each party.  I had asked Pam to add 'The Art Of Procrastination' and 'Figure You Out' to the her list and I wasn't disappointed as he played both.

He also treated us to 'Little Things', '9 Hours' and a few of his very early songs like 'Amsterdam'.

Danny played every song that was thrown his way and even had us all partaking his crowd participation song 'Smile', which he performed sat cross legged on the floor while we all did the 'flappy hand dance'; before finishing with 'Last Man Standing'.  Danny played for about an hour and then stayed to hang out for a while before heading off to house party number 11.

The second house party we went to was the 18th party on Danny's schedule and was hosted by Richard in Mansfield. Richard's house party was hosted as a garden party as there were closer to 30 guests at this one. 

At this show Danny sang from the gazebo while the fire pit and chimera added an atmospheric  glow. He also played with the format of this show by grouping his songs into sections, for example there was the 'Getting To Know You' section and the 'Hasn't He Done Well' section. Each section had well chosen songs to compliment the section, for example 'The Drinking Section' consisted of 'Drink, Drink, Drink', 'Drunk' And 'The Hangover Song'.

Although it was a different format Mansfield still had to partake in the 'flappy hand dance' that accompanies 'Smile'.

Danny Gruff has a charm and charisma about him that makes him really likable and whether you fall for his cheeky smile, funny lines, relatable lyrics or charming merchandising pitch he is a performer that can win over any audience.  He has a real talent and his lyrics are relatable to everyone.  He's adaptable to any audience and has the sort of charm and likability that would even win over your Gran.

I have been to quite a few house parties with various bands and all of them have been different as the guys that do this sort of tour adapt to their surrounding on each given night. Each show has different feel  and energy and with these sort of shows you also get an insight into the meanings behind the songs, which you never really get at a larger promoted show. 

I love the house party shows and these two shows were no different.  I had a fantastic time at both of them.

If you ever get the chance to host or attend one of these shows I would recommend  you to go for it as it is an experience that every music fan should get at least once in their lifetime. 

As for the lovely Mr Gruff, 2147 miles and 24 shows later he is now preparing to write and record his debut album, which I am now eagerly awaiting!

Thursday 11 August 2016

Ginger Wildheart and Ryan Hamilton and the Traitors

Ginger Wildheart Band, Ryan Hamilton and the Traitors, Massive Wagons and  The Main Grains
Brudenell Social Club Leeds  and the Deaf Institute Manchester
July 14th & 18th, 2016

It's funny how things work out and how social media can lead to unexpected opportunities and new friendships.

What started as an internet bromance between Ryan Hamilton and Ginger Wildheart has become one of the best and most enjoyable tours of the year. 

Originally the tour was eight dates and had support from the Massive Wagons, but due to popular demand they added a further four dates, three of which filled in the gaps of the current tour schedule and also added supports from The Main Grains for the extra shows, plus the addition of a grand finale at the Brooklyn Bowl in London with the support coming from one of Gingers other bands,  Hey! Hello!.

I had the pleasure of joining these guys on two of the dates of their tour last week, first one being the Brudenell Social Club in Leeds and the second one at one of my favourite venues, the Deaf Institute in Manchester.

I would have loved to have attended the London show as I remember really enjoying Hey! Hello when they supported the Widhearts back in 2014, but work commitments wouldn't allow me to.
The first set of the tour was from the Main Grains.  The Main grains consist of original Wildhearts bassist Danny McCormack, John JJ Watt (Spill 16 and Whiskey Haze), Ben Marsden (Modern Day Dukes) and Ginna Rhodes (Psychobabylon). These guys describe themselves as punk and roll....  and that is exactly what you got!

The Main Grains started the show as it was supposed to by  launching right into upbeat  songs from the very first note.  Although their set was mainly original material you could bounce along to all of them even if you were not familiar with their work.  Their set was really enjoyable and their cheeky cover of The Undertones 'Teenage Kicks' had everyone singing along.
I would not hesitate to go see them again.

The other support band for the tour were the Massive wagons, made up of Baz Mills on vocals, Adam Thistlewaite, Carl 'Flash' Cochrane, Bowz Bouskill and Alex Thistlewaite.   Massive Wagons hail from Carnforth and describe themselves as hard rock.  They don't lie!  The Massive Wagons was a set of all original material , but whether you knew the songs or not you couldn't help but nod along.

They have a real enthusiasm and look as though they really enjoy what they are doing. They also make their presence felt as although they were on a stage the size of a postage stamp, they gave a really high powered and energetic performance that got the crowd really revved up.  I will be keeping an eye out for their shows in the future and will definitely be recommending them to anyone who likes their rock on the heavier side.

The tour's main support came in the form of Ryan Hamilton and the Traitors, who although individually have been on the music scene for years, are a relatively new incarnation.  As their title suggest they are headed by Ryan Hamilton (Smile Smile/People on Vacation) and he is accompanied by Michael Richards (Enuff Z'enuff/ Dollyrots/ People On Vacation) , Rob Lane (Teenage Casket Company/ People On Vacation/ Let Loose)  and Nat Webb.

To hear them play it is hard to believe that they live on opposite sides of the world and get few chances to rehearse together as they just fit together. They are totally in sync and at ease with each other and it shows.

Although their music is a little fluffier than your average Wildhearts fan is used to, these guys were really well received and won themselves some new fans.

Each night they played a jam packed set with songs such as 'Medicine', 'Be Kind Rewind', ' 4 Letter Verb', ' Oh My God'  and the songs that Ryan's fans seem to have adopted as their anthem, 'Freak Flag'.

We also got a glimpse of one of the songs from the album that they will be recording later in the year; 'We never should have moved to LA'.  If this song is anything to go by the  new album will be a must hear.

At the Leeds show Ryan also included a rendition of 'Cheaters Never Change ' by his former band Smile Smile, however at the Manchester show this was replaced by a cover of REO Speedwagon's 'Take It On The Run', where the guys were joined by Ginger.

The guys gave their set 100% every night and the friendship between them shone through in their performance. I honestly could not pick a favourite song from their set as I enjoyed all of them and now can't wait to hear the new material when the album is released.

If you like your rock with a hint of Texan country then these are the guys for you!

Headlining each night was Ginger of the Wildhearts, and his band consisting of Conny Bloom of SilverGinger 5, and Denzel and Toshi from Hey Hello!

Ginger played an amazing set  that seemed to be over far too quickly, even though he crammed a massive 12 songs into the main set and three into the encore.  During the set Ginger made sure that all fans were catered for by not only playing songs from his solo material such as 'Mother City',  'No One Smiled At Me Today' and my favourite 'Only A Problem', but he also included  songs such as 'Anyway But Maybe',  'I Wanna Be New' and 'Sonic Shake' by SilverGinger 5.

Wildhearts fans were not disappointed either as he included 'Mozel Tov Cocktail' and 'Top Of The World' in the main set.

Wildhearts fans got a double whammy as the entire encore was a compilation of Wildhearts songs, however those at the Leeds how got an added bonus as Ginger was joined onstage by Danny McCormack while they played the show out with 'My Baby Is A Head Fuck', ' Suckerpunch'  and '29 x The Pain'. 

Although the Manchester crowd didn't get Danny they did get treated to a rendition of 'Geordie In Wonderland' as well as 'Suckerpunch' and '29 x The Pain' for their encore. 

Ginger had the crowd bouncing so much at the Manchester show that his microphone kept moving away as the floor below it vibrated, and I'm pretty sure the people in the bar below were expecting the crowd from the pit to land in their laps at any given moment

I have seen Ginger perform with the Wildhearts on numerous occasions and I have never been disappointed and tonight was no different. 

Being familiar with both Ginger 's and  Ryan's work I had to admit that it seemed an unusual pairing at first but it worked and I can honestly say that those two shows were up there on my list of favourite shows.  If you ever get the chance to see either of these guys live I would urge you to go. You won't regret it! 

Sunday 12 June 2016

Lacey Headline Tour

Support from Speaking in Shadows, Forty Four Hours, The Idol Dead, Cut The Heroics, Alterverse, A Mouthful of Matches and Danny Gruff
June 3rd, 4th, 5th 6th and 7th
Leeds Key Club, Nottingham Rock City, Newcastle Think Tank, Manchester Sound Control and London Surya.

One of the things that I have always wanted to tick on my bucket list was the chance to say that I have followed one of my favourite bands for every date of a tour and when I saw Lacey announce that they would be embarking on a mini tour I knew that this was my chance.

Lacey announced five dates in five cities with static supports from Speaking in Shadows and Forty Four Hours.  To add even more value for money they also added a different local support for each city.

Support choice for Leeds were The Idol Dead. 

The Idol Dead are a glam punk rock band from Leeds and consist of Polly on vocals, Tim, KC , Dan and Nish.  It was my first time seeing these guys as I had missed them at a couple of festival dates in the past and after feedback from friends I was looking forward to their set.  They did not disappoint!

They played a jam packed set of original material which had you hooked from the first note through to the very last.  They were upbeat and, even at such an early time in the run, managed to get the audience participation going. 

I will definitely be checking these guys out again when I get the chance.

Nottingham's local support was Cut the Heroics.  I've encountered Cut The Heroics before as they have supported Lacey on a couple of occasions and I've always enjoyed their sets.  Cut the Heroics are a three piece made up of Joe, Kieran and Stephen.

These guys also played a set of original material, which had catchy tunes that you couldn't help but tap your foot to.  They sounded great and put in a performance that shows how much they have progressed since the last time I saw them. These guys are one to watch.

Newcastle's support came in the form of Alterverse.  I had the chance to see these guys in the recent Patent Pending tour and I wasn't really impressed, so I was looking forward to them proving that the last time was an off night.  

Unfortunately that wasn't the case.  Their music and onstage banter was awkward and disjointed. The lead singer didn't have much in the way of charisma and they failed to hold my attention.

A Mouthful of Matches were support choice for Manchester. They are a five piece from Manchester consisting of Tom, Helen, Jane, Mark and Steven.  These guys had loads of energy and put in a really solid performance.  The lead singer had a cracking voice and all of their songs were catchy and well played.

London's support came in the form of solo artist Danny Gruff, who I have seen on quite a few occasions before. Danny has the kind of personality that can captivate and win over any audience. He is naturally funny as well as being a fantastic performer.  During his set he played songs such as the 'Hangover Song', 'Silence In The Storm' and crowd pleaser 'Smile'.   

'Smile' unfortunately has its own dance which many people aptly name the flappy hand dance, as you have to raise your arms in the air and wave your hands when Danny gives the 'secret wink' at the start if the chorus.  However as the venue has to be one of the warmest, sweatiest venues I have ever been in, he changed this to the dinosaur dance so that people would hold their elbows into the side of their torso while waving like a T Rex; so they didn't have to smell 'sweaty pits'. 

During this song Danny got Grazz, Josh and Dave from headliners Lacey up on stage to demonstrate the dance which had the audience rolling round with laughter as none of the Lacey guys could quite get the hang of the dance.

Danny never fails to deliver and tonight was no different!

I can honestly say that Forty Four Hours were a band that I have never come across until this week.  

Forty Four Hours are currently based in Manchester however they actually hail from my hometown of Blackburn.  Having never checked them out before or heard anything about them I really didn't know what to expect and I have to admit that on that first night I was pleasantly surprised.

Forty Four Hours are Joe, Alex and Alix who describe themselves as an alternative band, however their mellow rock tunes have a slight reggae undertone to them.  Forty Four Hours set is packed with music from their debut EP 'Only Just Holding On', my favourite track being 'Difficult', which they played each night along with the other tracks.

They held the audience's attention  throughout every show and should gain quite a following from this tour as I never heard anyone say a bad thing about them.  I definitely feel that these guys have a good career in front of them.  Grab a copy of their EP and see for yourself.

Main support came from Speaking In Shadows who I've had the pleasure of seeing a couple of times before as they have played with Lacey previously.  

Hailing from Nuneaton the quintet made up of Adam,  Lewis, Paul, Sam and Grant really know how to get the crowd warmed up.

Their set included a good range of songs from very early 2013 single release  'Sweet Gemini' to  'Scatter' from their latest EP 'The Anchor', as well as many more between.  Their songs are fast paced and full of energy, with great chorus lines and loads of 'whoa ohs' for the crowd to sing along with.

Looking round the crowd it was obvious that they have built themselves quite a following of loyal fans and I have a feeling I could be amongst that number in the future.

If you have visited this blog before or have read any of my past reviews you will know that Lacey are one of my favourite bands  and so the temptation of five consecutive nights of the boys was too hard to pass up.

Each night Lacey performed two sets.  

The first being a pre-show VIP acoustic set which cost fans an extra £5 on top of the general ticket price, however for the VIP experience you got a five song acoustic set which included 'Tonight', 'The Last Time', 'Hoax', 'Burning Out' and their cover  of Jimmy Eat World's 'The Middle'. 

The acoustic set each night sounded fantastic and was well received by everyone. I've mentioned before on my blog how much I really enjoy Lacey's acoustic sets as they show just how talented they really are. 

The VIP also included a signed poster (currently £4 each on the merch/web store) and the chance to hang out with them until general admission doors.  It was the perfect deal for any Lacey fan and an absolute bargain.

Lacey's main set was crammed full of songs from their debut album 'Under The Brightest Lights' and their current EP 'I Don't Owe The World A Thing', including 'My Eyes Are Open', 'Change The Story', 'Older', 'Contender', 'Hoax', 'I Don't Owe The World A Thing', 'Ghost While I'm Alive' and 'Take me Home'.

We also got treated to Lacey's cover version of Blink 182's 'Dammit', which was requested by fans on their Facebook page after the debut of this cover during the Bowling for soup tour earlier in the year.

One thing fans hadn't counted on were the two solo performances from lead singer Graham 'Grazz' Turner, who took to the stage to play 'Wait Till Tomorrow' from 'Under The Brightest Lights' and my favourite song from 'I Don't Owe The World A Thing';  'You Know Nothing', which is a haunting and honest song that is calming and soothing but with enough emotion and power to take your breath away.

The whole performance is laced with emotion and honesty and it is fair to say that all of the songs, with the exception of Dammit,  mean a lot to these boys.  When they say that they have poured their heart and soul into their craft they are not lying and it is obvious why they are attracting the growing fan base that they have.  This is one band I have recommended to countless  friends and will continue to do so as they get better and better each time I see them

Some people think I'm mad for doing more than one night of any tour but in all honesty I do not want to miss a single Lacey show.  I've now seen them 61 times since I first encountered them in April 2013 and as I finish this entry I'm eagerly waiting for the next show to be announced.

 Photography courtesy of Phil Procter

Thursday 18 February 2016

How About Another Round Tour 2016

How About Another Round Tour
Bowling For Soup, The Dollyrots, Lacey and MC Lars
February  2016

In 2013 Bowling For Soup announced their farewell UK Tour and left thousands of fans across the UK devastated..........  but now, two and a half years later,  THEY ARE BACK and even better than before!

At last summer's Download festival BFS fans were surprised with the announcement of a reunion tour which immediately sparked a buzz across the internet and various fan pages.

The anticipation grew even further following Bowling For Soup's announcement that they would be bringing  long time pals The Dollyrots and completing the line up with Nottingham based band Lacey and rapper MC Lars.

If you look at the various fan pages and internet sites, this tour has generated a huge buzz and although it has been greeted with speculation as to why the Bowling For Soup boys have made a return to the UK, it has only added to the hype for those eager to be re-united with their heroes and spend an evening in the company of their favourite Texas quartet.

The tour spreads across 15 consecutive nights in 15 different cities, starting in Glasgow on the 1st of February and ending in Bristol on the 15th. Being a fan of BFS for quite a few years I immediately purchased tickets for the three closest shows and following the announcement of Lacey for the support, I made sure I attended a few more!  I have been lucky enough to see 7 shows in total on this run.

Warming up the crowd each night has been 'post pop punk lap top rap' artist MC Lars, who spends the first few minutes of his first set doing just that by leading the crowd in a series of gentle stretching exercises before launching into the  very energetic 'Hurricane Fresh'.

Unlike most gigs I have been to, MC Lars lives up to his name as master of ceremonies on this tour, as rather than doing one set he actually does three short sets,  introducing each of the other bands.

Across his sets he is consistently upbeat and full of energy and (with the exception of a rather narrow minded crowd at Manchester), he really does get the energy flowing, the vibe at a high level and his set includes many crowd pleasers such as 'This Gigantic Robot' and 'Signing Emo'. 

Many of his songs call for crowd participation and whether you are chanting to along to 'Mr Raven' or bobbing your rock hand dragon in the air to 'Dragon Blood' you are guaranteed to have a smile on your face.

I have never been a fan of rap music but after finding myself singing 'Download This Song'  the morning after each show, I found myself searching ITunes for his back catalogue and I think it is now safe to say that he has won me over and has gained a new fan! (check him out here: )

Next up is one of my favourite bands, Lacey!  Anyone who has read my blog before will know that I have seen these guys on quite a few occasions and they have never failed to impress me but this time they have excelled themselves.

Following the release of their debut album 'Under The Brightest Lights' last year, Lacey have continued to make a name for themselves in the music industry and on the 5th of February they released their new EP 'I Don't Owe The World A Thing', with their set including three songs from the EP.

Lacey's subtle multi part harmonies, striking guitar hooks  and catchy chorus lines have always been present in their music but it is clear when listening to the new songs that their sound has matured and grown along with them.  The new songs included in the set;  'Hoax', 'Shadow' and 'Ghost while I'm Alive' highlight this perfectly.  

Also included in the set are fan favourite 'Contender' and 'Tonight' from their debut album,  as well as a cheeky cover of Blink 182's 'Dammit'.

Lead singer Graham Turner has a unique and powerful voice and can hit notes some singers only dream of, and the intricate guitar lines add a uniqueness to their sound . Take a listen to Shadow here:

This is the longest and most prestigious tour of Lacey's career to date, and they have proved that they deserved to be there. 

Lacey received a fantastic reception from the crowd on each night that I saw them and given that they have just announced that they will be embarking on a headline tour in June, this can only mean even bigger things for them. 

Next up are Los Angeles pop punk band The Dollyrots.  I first discovered The Dollyrots on the 'One Big Happy Tour' that they did with Bowling For Soup back in 2012, and although I have always stated that I do not generally like female fronted bands, I have always enjoyed the Dollyrots and found them really listenable.

Made up of Kelly and Luis and joined on this tour by drummer Rikki Stixx, The Dollyrots play a very highly charged set. 

The relationship between Kelly and Luis is very clear to see and adds to the dynamic of the band.  Add to that the appearance of River the 'Dollytot', each night and it is clear to see that why the fans love this little pop punk family, and not just for their awesome music. 

The Dollyrots set was packed full of old favourites including 'Jackie Chan', 'Twist Me To The Left', 'Satellites' and 'Because I'm Awesome', as well as some newer songs such as 'Get Weird' and 'Come And Get It', from their last album 'Barefoot And Pregnant'.   (check them out here: )

The Dollyrots have recently completed a successful pledge campaign for their new EP 'Mommas Gonna Knock You Out' and their tour DVD.  Included in their set is 'Save Me' from their new EP.
The Dollyrots are pure pop punk and never fail to impress me.  I would highly recommend seeing these guys live as they always produce a fun and exciting set.

Topping the bill are the founders of pop punk.......  Bowling for soup!

Any Bowling For Soup fan will try to explain the excitement they feel and the goose bumps they get as they hear the opening chords of Bowling for Soups play on song, but until you see them live you will never fully understand the anticipation and thrill of hearing that song.

As the curtain drops a full pub scene is revealed complete with beer barrels, dart board, onstage bar and walls adorned with photographs of the bands (which looked to be personal photos rather than posed especially for the set).  On Valentine's Day the walls of the set were also adorned with hearts,  and valentine message boards had been added to the drum riser.

Starting with the song that launched their career, Bowling For Soup are greeted with cheers and screams from the crowd as they kick off the show with 'The Bitch Song'. 

Then, without giving the audience time to get their breath back,  they head right into 'Emily' and lift the roof off the venue. 

And that's just the start!  More high energy fun ensues with raucous choruses in the form of crowd pleasers 'Ohio', 'Last Rock Show' and 'Punk Rock 101'.  They even throw in the theme tune to cartoon 'Phineas And Ferb'.

At this point Jaret takes a moment to bring the energy level back down a notch and is honest and upfront with the audience as he tells them that it is his fault that they took a hiatus as he had been experiencing personal problems and that he didn't know where he was headed personally.  Jaret's speech is open and honest and is a stark reminder that the rock stars we idolise and look up to in today's society  are still human and prone to a wobble, just like anyone else.  Personally I think it takes guts to hold your hand up and admit something as personal as that to thousands of people, but it is this kind of honesty that earns Jaret the respect that he has among his fans. 

Following his speech with a beautiful rendition of  'Turbulence', Jaret lifts the room again by announcing that he loves nothing more than to play songs with his best friends every night, but as his friends weren't there we would have to make do with Bowling For Soup, before launching into 'Friends O' Mine'.

Anyone who has seen BFS before will know that you don't just get a night of music with these guys but you also get a lot of onstage banter, which can (and has been known to)  go off at a tangent at any moment.  Whether it is Jaret's observation that when English men cheer it sounds as though they are about to go into battle, at which points he encourages the cheering as he yells 'Storm The Castle' or a nicely improvised song called 'Swampy Balls' after Chris' statement that he was too sweaty in the room at Liverpool, there is never a dull moment and no two shows are the same.

Following a recent statement that 'Pop Punk is dead', the Bowling For Soup boys set out to prove otherwise by playing  a medley of songs by prominent pop punk bands including Blink 182, Greenday, New Found Glory, Jimmy Eat World and Good Charlotte before launching into their cover version of 'Stacy's mom' (originally by Fountains Of Wayne).   All of these covers are met with raucous applause and crowd participation to which Jaret  cheekily comments about how they get a better response for the songs they didn't write.

It doesn't deter them though as they go on to perform 'I Don't Know' and 'Almost', before inviting the Dollyrots to join them on stage for 'Love Ya, Love Ya, Love Ya' from the 'One Big Happy' collaboration album.

Ending the set on 'High School Never Ends' the guys go off to the on stage bar to await their encore!  As they come back on they explain that they no longer go and wait in the wings for a few minutes as they now have an onstage bar with beer and the side stage doesn't have beer!

The encore consists of very high energy performances of 'Shut Up And Smile' and 'Girls All The Bad Guys Want' before they take their final bow and actually leave the stage. (

The guys have spared no expense with this show.  During the show we find that the beer barrels hide steam and fire cannons (which they couldn't use at all the shows due to fire regulations, but looked fantastic when we saw them in action at the Birmingham show).

Throughout the Bowling For Soup set the onstage bar is populated by Lacey, The Dollyrots, MC Lars and the rest of the stage crew, leading you thinking that you are actually watching a pub band at your local with your mates. Even with the smoke/fire cannons, fantastic lighting and couple of thousand strong crowd each night you still get the feel of an intimate show.

Bowling For Soup have always been a firm favourite of mine since I first discovered them back in 2002, and no matter how many times I see them live, I will never get tired of seeing them.

If you love music and a good time, I would recommend that you see all of the acts on this tour as I can guarantee you will not be disappointed!