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

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