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Bowling For Soup and Simple Plan bring fun-filled show to Birmingham's O2 Academy - review

By Rebecca Sayce | Birmingham | Music | Published:

Decades pass by and music charts change but one band will always remain - Bowling For Soup.

Bowling For Soup at Birmingham's O2 Academy. Picture from Facebook /@rawjamalam

The Texas rockers have stood the test of time, consistently releasing new music and bringing the party to venues across the world since 1994.

And last night the fun-loving quartet came to Birmingham's O2 Academy for a night of laughter and live music, joined by their good friends in Canadian pop punk band Simple Plan.

Queues wound around the Horse Fair venue long before the venue's doors opened, with eager fans waiting excitedly to catch a glimpse of the punk rock four-piece.

First up to warm the crowd, however, was award-winning trio Not Ur Girlfrenz.

Hailing from Dallas, Texas, the youngsters showed that age is just a number and in no-way impacts your talent as the teens put on a stellar show.

Through original singles Song About You and Never Stop, to covers of My Chemical Romance's I'm Not Okay and The Spice Girls' Wannabe as a treat for British audiences, the band showcased an extraordinary amount of talent.

Vocalist and guitarist Liv Haynes is a tour-de-force behind the mic, while Maren Alford on drums simply stunned. Bassist Gigi Haynes impressed behind the bass, bringing the whole package together.

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I'm sure this won't be the last time audiences hear of this up-and-coming all-girl power trio if their set last night is anything to go by.

It's been 17 years since Montreal quintet Simple Plan toured the UK with Bowling For Soup, and they were welcomed by the Brummie crowd like old friends as soon as they hit the stage.

Wasting no time with pleasantries, the rockers dived straight in to a rendition of hit track I'd Do Anything to an energetic reception as arms flew into the air and bodies jumped around.

Simple Plan have been performing for more than 20 years, and yet they still put the same amount of energy and passion into each live set.

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Hit songs Jump, Welcome to My Life, Addicted Shut Up and Where I Belong still held the same angst-filled power that they did when they were first released, with lead man Pierre Bouvier belting out the iconic lyrics that shaped the teenage years of the crowd members before him.

Their set showed a great amount of versatility, blending these classic tracks with new offerings such as Boom! and Summer Paradise - all delivered with the same gusto with guitarists Sébastien Lefebvre and Jeff Stinco executing soaring choruses, David Desrosiers producing booming bass lines, and Chuck Comeau blowing the crowd away with his drum prowess.

Ending on fan-favourite song Perfect as the room was illuminated by torch light, Simple Plan left the stage on a high with fans bellowing their lyrics until the walls vibrated.

Simple Plan in Glasgow. Picture from: Facebook/ Chady Awad

The greatest show on Earth was here for Birmingham - and fans were getting ready for some crazy fun as soon as the lights went down.

Hit tracks Suckerpunch and High School Never Ends kicked off Bowling For Soups hour-and-a-half-long set with style, packed full of enough energy to power the entire room.

"Hello Birmingham, it's great to be back," bellowed vocalist Jaret Reddick as smoke cannons billowed into the air and flashing lights bathed the crowd in every colour of the rainbow.

The only thing that can compete against the group's finely-tuned live performance is their comedic stylings. The audience was laughing and singing along in equal measure as the group launched into their signature crude jokes and self-deprecating remarks that they have become well-loved for.

From a live debut of new track Alexa Bliss through to golden oldies Ohio, The B**** Song and Almost, the band treated fans in Birmingham to a varied setlist that shone a light on the group's entire discography.

The crowd danced along and sang every lyric to iconic single Girl All The Bad Guys Want, and raised their hands to emotional Blue October cover HRSA, in which pictures sent to the band by fans were shown on a large screen to highlight different mental health struggles.

While Bowling For Soup play the part of the class clowns, this never impacts their musical ability. The four-piece delivered a well-polished set filled with punky guitar riffs, pounding drums and punchy vocals that truly reflected the years spent honing their craft - with a few fart jokes thrown in for good measure.

Long-standing guitarist Chris Burney delivered each guitar hook with ease and style, while drummer Gary Wiseman carried each song with his majestic drum sections.

New bassist Rob Felicetti, best known for his work with The Ataris and Patent Pending, brought charisma and style to the stage in abundance as he laughed and joked with the audience before stunning on the bass.

Ending the night on hit songs Punk Rock 101, their cover of SR-17's 1985 and A Really Cool Dance Song, Bowling For Soup went out in a blaze of glory, surrounded by sparkling pyrotechnics, buckets of confetti and adoring fans screaming their names.

If anyone had ever doubted Bowling For Soup's relevance in 2020, last night's show in Birmingham firmly cemented why the group are still at the top of their game.

Rebecca Sayce

By Rebecca Sayce
@becci_star

Entertainment journalist for Express & Star and Shropshire Star. Contact me: rebecca.sayce@expressandstar.co.uk

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