A Day to Remember bring the Bad Vibrations tour to Birmingham with fellow Floridians New Found Glory and British gems Neck Deep and Moose Blood.
14 years after they first broke out of the Sunshine State, it is no surprise that A Day to Remember have been selling out arenas up and down the UK. Joined by pop punk legends New Found Glory and two of the most vibrant rising bands in Britain in Neck Deep and Moose Blood, it promised an unmissable night and did not disappoint.
Fresh from their first headline tour in the States, Moose Blood emerged onto the stage enveloped in a shimmering pink mist and treated the crowd to bangers ‘Honey’ and ‘Bukowski’. Even before their sophomore release the boys from Canterbury were putting in touching and accomplished live performances, but it’s overwhelmingly clear that two quality records have left the band with a much stronger roster of songs to draw from. Front man Eddy Brewerton, a beacon of sincerity as always, thanked the crowd for sharing the set with the band before launching into ‘Knuckles’. The songs spoke for themselves: Moose Blood are a special lot.
Neck Deep strode into view to the Stranger Things theme, moody synths swelling right alongside a crowd that was ready to burst. ‘Gold Steps’ had barely begun when the crowd erupted and nobody held back as the band crashed through ‘Lime Street’ and ‘Kali Ma’ with limitless energy. “This is a song about snakes and shit,” front man Ben Barlow grinned as the band launched themselves into the explosive ‘Serpents’ (apparently not dedicated to my flatmates). Before finishing on the triumphant ‘Can’t Kick Up the Roots’, the band launched into an electrifying performance of ‘A Part of Me’ where each word that left Barlow’s lips was sung back twice as loud from beneath a constellation of glittering lighters and phones.
The crowd came together like so many old friends for… ‘My Friends Over You’, shouting the lyrics together like they were all sixteen, broken, and dancing around their bedrooms on their own once more.
New Found Glory took to the stage with all the confidence befitting such an influential band, but the coat of arms bearing the slogan “twenty years of pop punk” put as much doubt into my mind as it did excitement. Almost twice the age of Barlow, Jordan Pundik was never going to be as acrobatic a front man, but his sense for the crowd showed two decades of experience with celebrated material.
Pundik paused for a moment to lament a “sausage fest” in music and was commended; however I was disappointed he didn’t take the opportunity to give a shout-out to any of the women already tearing the scene to pieces. It’s the hard work of bands like Milk Teeth and Marmozets that made 2016 such an exciting year for British bands while White Lung and Pity Sex are both accomplished women-led bands that don’t get half as much attention as they deserve.
The crowd came together like so many old friends for classic break-up anthem and closing song ‘My Friends Over You’, shouting the lyrics together like they were all sixteen, broken, and dancing around their bedrooms on their own once more. Although I thought it would have made more sense to give the more explosive Neck Deep the second spot on the bill, New Found Glory left the crowd positive that twenty years was not the end and that twenty minutes was far too long to wait for fellow Floridians A Day to Remember.
Darkness swept the arena and quiet followed, a chaos of strobes and confetti shattering the silence as front man Jeremy McKinnon claimed the stage with a question: “How we doing Birmingham?” The audience erupted in reply and A Day to Remember followed suit, ‘Mr. Highway’s Thinking About the End’ and ‘I’m Made of Wax, Larry What Are You Made Of?’ serving as a speedy reminder that Homesick is a record to cherish.
McKinnon romped about the stage and playfully obstructed guitarists Skaff and Westfall, their exasperated grins signs that the band was just as intent on having the best time with their friends as anybody in the crowd.
Singles ‘Paranoia’ and ‘Bad Vibrations’ were met with rapture whilst ‘Exposed’ showed the band to still be pushing the boundaries of their sound. McKinnon’s thunderous growls reach dark, new depths and the influence of Wage War guitarist Cory Quistad on what are arguably the most technically impressive riffs the band has ever produced is tangible.
Heavier territory did not mean less fun, however, as McKinnon prompted a crowd-surfing-on-a-crowd-surfer competition (ask a friend to draw you a diagram). The band thrashed out old and new material with such an abundance of energy that when they finished old favourite ‘The Plot to Bomb the Panhandle’ and wished the crowd good night, everybody was too blown away to immediately call for an encore.
Mckinnon and Skaff soon returned with acoustic guitars to perform the softer ‘If It Means a Lot to You’ which saw phones and lighters the arena for the second time that night; however, it was McKinnon’s turn to be blown away, stepping away from his microphone with a smile on his face, as the crowd chanted the chorus unprompted and with surprising harmony. The full band returned to finish the night with another Homesick favourite ‘The Downfall of Us All’ which left everybody in that arena glowing, on or off stage.