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The Wonder Years - O2 Ritz, Manchester 05.02.2017

The Wonder Years mammoth tour rolled into the O2 Ritz, Manchester, and we were lucky enough to be there to catch them. Support for the mighty Pop Punk giants came from Tiny Moving Parts, Trash Boat and PUP.

With the way the night started, I did not have high hopes for the night, being let down by a friend and having to go alone, then finding out that there was no train, so I had to get a 2 hour coach. Wonderful. Anyway. First and foremost I can honestly say that the Ritz is a stunning venue, and has catapulted into being one of my favorites, with a open-access falcons (a rare find in venues) and a stunning stage elevated just high enough so that anyone has a good view whilst still putting the bands on a pedestal.

First up were American Math Rock band hailing from Minnesota, Tiny Moving Parts! Whilst the venues evident lack of organization meant the stewards did not start admission until TMP were on the stage, this did nothing to damper the unwavering energy of the band, who continued playing a storming set to a growing crowd. Whilst it was apparent that it was many peoples first time seeing them, there were still a knot of fans in the center having a blast. Tiny Moving Parts played all of the crowd favorites such as 'Sundress', 'Birdhouse', 'Headache' and 'Dakota'. I can unfortunately say I had never properly listened to them prior, but they have gained a new fan!

Next up were the only UK band on the tour, from St Albans, Trash Boat. The last time I saw TB was at a sold out cramped basement, so it was super cool to see them play to so many people in such an iconic venue. Trash Boat proceeded to kick up the proceedings a notch with their slightly heavier, grittier vocals and enticing stage presence. Trash Boat quite literally separated the crowd, with about half loving them and singing along (complete with aggressive finger pointing) whilst the other half had clearly never seen them before and had no inclination what to expect. Whilst the crowd were not the most active of the night, 'Perspective' had one of the best reactions of the night, when as soon as the first chord was played, a huge pit opened instantly and the crowd surfers entailed. Their set was dominated by songs from their debut album 'Nothing I Write You Can Change What You've Been Through'. They closed their set with 'Strangers' and were joined on stage by Soupy, giving us a taste of what's to come!

PUP stormed the stage next. Quite literally. Fucking impressive. The band admitted themselves they were quite literally 'twatted' on stage, but that did not hinder their performance one little bit, and if it did, I am dying to know what their stage presence is like sober, because holy shit they were good! PUP are a Canadian Punk outfit, formed in Toronto 2013. It was no secret that a portion of the crowd had came specifically for PUP, as it was their last show on the bill with TWY, TB, and TMP who were all proceeding on to Europe. All the bands throughout the night had expressed misery at this, and it was crystal clear from their performance why. PUP were clearly humbled by the response they received, their was zero lack of energy by either band member or crowd member. Their set opened with 'Guilt Trip' and 'Reservoir', contained all the evidently favorites, and ended with 'If This Tour Doesn't Kill You, I Will' and 'DVP'.

Finally the stage was set for The Wonder Years, and the security guard allowed me to stand side stage for the entirety, big thanks. A wall of light engulfed the crowd and Soupy entered with an acoustic guitar and proceeded to treat us all to a heartbreaking rendition of 'No Closer To Heaven', followed by 'Local Man Ruins Everything' which changed the dynamic of the crowd from a sense of awe, taking in every beautiful lyric, to a mass of flailing arms and dry throats! My personal favorite TWY song, 'Cardinals', was a spectacle of showmanship live, with Soupy standing on the edge of the photo pit to lean into the crowd and immerse himself in the infectious energy. TWY's set consisted of all of their classics, as well as new favorites, such as 'Don't Let Me Cave In' and 'Dismantling Summer'. The Wonder Years also illustrated an innate ability to slow things down and play an acoustic song inch perfect, in the form of 'Madeline', packed with heartfelt lyrics and emotion. During fan favourite 'Palm Reader' a bunch of sizeable black and white latex balls were dropped on my head from the balcony above, which was a bit of a surprise, needless to say they instantly started flying around the entire venue and bouncing off of peoples heads. The Wonder Years closed out their set with 'Passing Through A Screen Door', which was met with a chorus of groans when the bands exited the stage, with all the floor lights even coming on to give the look that their set was in fact, over. Luckily for us they decided to come and play one more song! The Wonder Years came out swinging, to 'Came Out Swinging'! Featuring guest vocals from Tobi from Trash Boat, with the two different vocal styles juxtaposing, but supporting, each other. The whirlwind of an hour-long show ended with the crowd and Soupy yelling 'I'm getting there' in perfect unison, it was indeed a sight to behold.

Review - Luke Percival

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