When a band have been around for so long it can be hard for them to live up to people’s expectations let alone exceed them. But that’s exactly what Fall Out Boy managed to do when they played London’s iconic Wembley Arena last week.
After announcing their hiatus in 2009, the boys made a triumphant return last year with the release of ‘Save Rock and Roll’. Now they’re back on tour for the first time since the break and they’ve brought some seriously talented support acts along with them.
Scandinavian trio New Politics kicked things off with an adrenaline-fuelled performance that was pure pop-rock brilliance from the word go. After bursting onto the stage and launching straight into a fast, high energy set, it soon became clear that these guys know how to get the crowd going.
In fact, having already supported the likes of 30 Seconds to Mars, Pink and Panic! At The Disco, it’s no surprise that New Politics are so good at what they do. Further proof of the band’s expertise lies within hit single ‘Harlem’. With its catchy chorus, strong beat and bouncy pop vibe, this song has all the ingredients of a big summer anthem and is an instant hit with the crowd, who jump up and down and sing along to every word. Granted, it seems to be the younger members of the audience who are the most captivated, but even the mums and dads are smiling and tapping their toes. Even our writer Matt agrees in his ‘Harlem’ review.
With personalities just as vibrant as their music, it’s hard for anyone to take their eyes off of the guys in New Politics. They take full command of the stage and keep everyone on their toes by leaping around, dancing, throwing guitars in the air and swapping instruments mid-song. It’s lead singer David Boyd who steals the show, though. Just as any good frontman should, he oozes charisma and outshines all of his band mates with his distinctive vocals, overwhelming stage presence and party tricks, which include breakdancing, jumping into the crowd and launching himself into a group of adoring, banner-weilding fans.
Boyd’s antics leave the crowd wanting more but sadly the show loses momentum when the next band takes to the stage.
The Pretty Reckless weren’t half as lively as New Politics and in fact, their set seemed a bit dull in comparison. That’s not to say that they were completely boring though – far from it!
Both bands are quite similar in that all eyes are on their lead singers. Front-woman and ex-Gossip Girl actress Taylor Momsen has toned down the wannabe-goth look and instead takes to the stage as a rock chick personified, complete with tousled hair, tight leather trousers and a don’t-give-a-fuck attitude. She is effortlessly sexy, swinging her hips from side to side, looking totally lost in the music and directing smouldering stares at the crowd. It’s a masterclass in how to look hot without taking your clothes off and twerking, which – considering how many young, impressionable girls are in the audience – can only be a good thing.
Whilst their songs seem to be lost on older members of the audience, every teenage fan in the room is able to belt out all the words to hit singles ‘Make Me Wanna Die’ and ‘Heaven Knows’, thanks to the constant airplay they’ve been given in recent months. On the radio The Pretty Reckless sound fairly underwhelming but the noises filling Wembley Arena tell a different story. There are heavy, thumping drum beats, complex, indulgent guitar solos and powerful, soaring vocals that fill the room. It’s clear that The Pretty Reckless are a talented bunch and, what’s more, it’s refreshing to see a female-fronted band that aren’t trying to be Paramore!
The best performance of the night undoubtedly comes from the headline act. Sporting black balaclavas, a gigantic flag and tons of attitude, Fall Out Boy make a dramatic entrance onto a stage the size of their popularity.
After opening number ‘The Phoenix’, the boys emerge from beneath their balaclavas looking better than ever. Bassist Pete Wentz’s ego seems to have deflated somewhat, allowing lead singer and guitarist Patrick Stump to take his place in the limelight. He looks slim and happy and this noticeable confidence in his appearance breathes new life into the band’s performance.
The atmosphere is electric and from start to finish, every song is a hit. The ones that aren’t quite as well known are placed perfectly within the set to break up the action and give fans a much needed break to catch their breath before the next round of sing-alongs. It comes as no surprise that emo anthems ‘Dance Dance’, ‘Sugar We’re Going Down’ and ‘Thanks For The Memories’ stand out as the biggest crowd pleasers of the night, with fans of all ages belting out the words.
It’s not all nostalgia though – their newer hits prove that they’ve still got it. Fans jump to ‘Death Valley’, fist pump to ‘My Songs Know What You Did in the Dark’ and sway along to ‘Just One Yesterday’, a performance, which – in true Wembley Arena style – is lit only by the light of the crowd’s phones.
Much to the disappointment of the hardy fans that had camped outside the venue to get a good spot at the front, three quarters of the band appear on a smaller stage in the middle of the crowd part way through their set, to play stripped down versions of ‘Sophomore Slump or Comeback of the Year’, ‘I’m Like a Lawyer with the Way I’m Always Trying to Get You Off (Me & You)’ and ‘Grand Theft Autumn/Where Is Your Boy’. The acoustic tracks really helped to break up a lengthy set and despite being smack bang in the middle of such a huge venue, the banter between the boys and the crowd made it feel like a much more intimate gig.
Such a raw acoustic performance really showcases the band’s abilities, proving that under their angsty lyrics, catchy melodies and anthemic choruses, lie a group of seriously talented musicians. The set also included some impressive guitar and drum solos, which gave the lesser known members of Fall Out Boy their five minutes of fame. In all honesty, these solos didn’t really add anything to the show but it was clear that they were necessary for the transitions between stages to flow seamlessly.
It made no difference to the audience though, as they were completely captivated. The band can do no wrong in their eyes and in turn it seems the boys have a lot of admiration for their fans.
Fall Out Boy’s fans are at the heart of everything they do and they were rewarded for their loyalty again and again during the course of the show with plenty of surprises, countless thank-you’s and of course a flawless performance from the band. It’s a real treat to see fans of all ages enjoying themselves – from those who have been there from the early days of ‘Take This to Your Grave’ right up to the new generation of FOB fans gained from the success of last year’s ‘Save Rock And Roll’.
Bringing people together is exactly what music is all about and it’s good to see a band who haven’t forgotten that. The smiles and glances between the boys reveal that they’re still the best of friends and with their dark days are behind them. They seem genuinely happy to be back on the stage surrounded by the fans that got them there.
It’s official – Fall Out Boy are back and better than ever!
Words by Liz Murray.
Photos by Jack Edinger and The Pretty Reckless photo by Chloe Chaplin.