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Bowling For Soup - O2 Victoria Warehouse, Manchester 13.02.2020

For a band that almost quit touring 6 years ago, Bowling For Soup have put together some fantastic tour lineups since, but this one may just have the edge.

17 years ago, Simple Plan joined Bowling For Soup on their UK tour and tonight history repeated itself. Adding Not Ur Girlfrenz to the mix made this one a night to look forward to, as shown by the sheer amount of people already in the venue before the first band (Not Ur Girlfrenz) even came on stage.

Hailing from Dallas, Texas, these young rockers have made huge strides in their short career. From touring with bands they were influenced by to performing on Warped Tour, these girls have achieved a lot. Unsurprising really, when you see for yourself just how good they are.

From the moment they walked on stage, even through battling the flu, all three girls gave it their all. From what I saw, if Liv’s voice is that good through a flu, I need to see them when they’re on top form. All three girls are born musicians, both Maren and Gigi mastering the art of their instruments without any issue at all, bringing together a fantastic show. No wonder Not Ur Girlfrenz are award-winning.

Next up was the moment I’ve personally been waiting for, for probably 15 years. Simple Plan came bounding on stage with the same energy they had when they first came over here 17 years ago. Getting straight in to the songs we all wanted to hear, the band were exceptionally tight, and it was obvious to the entire crowd that they were having as much fun as we were.

'I’d Do Anything' was the perfect opener, with 'Jump', 'Welcome To My Life' and 'Shut Up' coming straight after. It was like I was transported back to my teen years, and even though it’s been so long, the songs couldn’t have sounded more current. Pierre’s voice has only improved with time (not that it needed to), and the chemistry between all the band members was clear.

The set consisted of a good mix of old and newer music, even a short cover of Oasis’ 'Wonderwall', being in Manchester and all. I couldn’t have chosen a better setlist if I’d tried. As the end of the set approached, mobile phone torches came out and 'Perfect' closed Simple Plan’s literally perfect show. It seemed to me that Bowling For Soup had a hard act to follow.

However, from the moment they came on stage, you just knew Bowling For Soup were actually going to top anything we’d seen already.

Kicking off proceedings with 'Suckerpunch' and 'High School Never Ends', it was obvious this was probably going to be one of the most fun gigs to experience. With Jaret, Chris and bassist Rob Felicetti bouncing jokes and banter off each other between songs, you immediately settled in for both musical perfection and comedic laughter. Bowling For Soup brought all the usual hits, but what really stunned me was the new track ‘Alexa Bliss’. Slightly heavier than usual, it was a brief change for BFS, however it is an outstanding track and fits perfectly in the set.

The inclusion of 'HRSA', a cover of the Blue October song, and 'When We Die' brought a few serious and sombre moments to the set with Jaret highlighting his own struggles with mental health, and the video playing behind the band during 'HRSA' was a fantastic way of encouraging everyone to talk if they need to and that it’s okay to not be okay. Props to Bowling For Soup as a whole for highlighting such an important issue, and to Jaret personally for opening up to us.

For me, I wasn’t sure how I’d feel knowing Erik wasn’t in the band any more as I’d grown up with those same 4 guys, but Rob is a fantastic addition and he fits in perfectly. It’s great to see such a bond between the guys too.

As the show began to come to a close with songs such as 'Almost' and 'Punk Rock 101', confetti canons, smoke machines and pyrotechnics exploded and the crowd actually went wild. Coming back on for a 2 song encore of '1985' and 'A Really Cool Dance Song', Bowling For Soup left us absolutely satisfied that we’d seen yet another fantastic show, yet begging for more as the night came to a close.

If there was ever any doubt in people’s minds whether Bowling For Soup and Simple Plan were still relevant in 2020, this show, in fact this tour as a whole, has shown that not only are they still relevant, they’re on top of their game.

Review - Vikki Holding

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