Kerrang! magazine. It’s something we all started reading around the age of 12 or 13 and grew out of by the time we’d finished our GCSEs. Nevertheless it’s a publication that’s somehow influenced all of us at some point in our teenage lives and one thing they’re particularly good at is finding great new artists and launching them to UK success. Tonight is a classic example of this being put into practice, with a line-up ranging from the likes of fairly unknown act The Wonder Years to household name Good Charlotte. Of course, being a magazine that influences a a largely under-16 audience, the crowd at Southampton’s established Guildhall venue was a lot younger than what you’d expect to see at a rock concert. For the first time in my life I actually felt old! This is a great reminder, however, that live rock music is a beast that won’t be dying out any time soon and it would seem the younger generations have made sure of that. Good for them.
Up-and-coming, mostly unheard of in the UK, septet The Wonder Years were first to hit the stage tonight, warming up the crowd with their own brand of pop-punk. As someone who’d never really given this band a chance previously, I was massively surprised by them. Their set consisted of plenty of material from their 2010 release Upsides, an album that I’ve since been convinced to buy following their live performance.
Next up were Kerrang! favourites Framing Hanley, who were met with loud girlish screams from the audience. While I have no quarrels with their music, their performance didn’t have me feeling particularly pumped. They were okay and there were clearly a lot of fans loving it in the audience, but for me it wasn’t anything special.
For the straight-edge five-piece pop-punk steam train that is Four Year Strong, however, there was no fucking about. They hit the stage and, along with the eager crowd, gave it everything from the word go. Instead of trying to describe their performance, it’s best you check out this video I recorded (below) and see for yourself. Easily the strongest act of the night, I only wish they had played a longer set:
When headliners Good Charlotte made their way onto the stage, the ear-piercing screams of thousands of fangirls, as expected, rung out like knives throughout the venue. Playing a mixture of old favourites (The Anthem and Girls and Boys) the set got off to a great start. “I have a confession to make,” croaked singer Joel Madden, “I’m sick so I hope I don’t get any of you guys ill. Let’s sweat it out!” Despite being under the weather, which explains his occasionally flaky vocals, Madden did plenty to work the crowd and had a good level of interaction with fans from his place on the stage. Just look at this video I captured of them performing The Young and the Hopeless and you’ll see what I mean:
It became clear that this was a band tired of being out of the picture since their period of global success almost a decade ago, a band that’s is doing everything they can to get back in the game. From the manic response of their fans, it would seem, this is a band we could see returning to the UK again in the near future. Is this Good Charlotte’s second wave of success? Who knows?! They’re certainly still reeling in the fangirls.
Overall it was a great night. A chance to see four bands that, while looking fairly similar on paper, differ completely when it comes to their live stage presence. It was a lot of fun and I will strongly consider buying a ticket for Kerrang! tour 2012.
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