PHOTO CREDITS: MB PHOTOGRAPHY SCOTLAND
On a chilly night in the second city of the Empire, Texan stalwarts Bowling for Soup return to kick off their UK Get Happy tour. The four piece have toured this side of the pond extensively through their 24 years together and bassist Erik Chandler says, “We think we’re at 30-31 times over here,” but that said, there is a buzz in the dressing room on this the first night of the tour. The tour’s objective is to play year 2000’s ‘Drunk Enough to Dance’ album in its entirety alongside the hits that attracted so much attention through the years.
That buzz is all the more tangible with the addition of two high-energy support acts – ‘Army of Freshmen’ and ‘The Aquabats’. BfS have a history with each of these supports having played together in the past and they share real similarities in their positive-up beat material.
‘Army of Freshmen’ take to the stage shortly after doors and begin their set with a slowly building audience who filter forward in response to the immense feel good opening tracks. The expected bounce of a band who clearly love to perform instantly grabs the diverse crowd by the scruff of the neck and make sure the night starts on the right foot.
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Second billing belongs to the even more theatrical ‘Aquabats’. Arriving on stage in tight Lycra superhero outfits, many of the crowd are initially open-mouthed, whilst others smile broadly. These are no spring chickens as can be seen from the outfits that leave little to the imagination. It’s clear that two decades of touring can play havoc with a waistline.
What unfolds however, is a barrage of pop-punk tracks with dashes of funk and metal. This is a band who clearly set out to entertain and they achieve this with ease. The frontman shapes compliment the music as we are treated to Elvis karate chops, audience interaction and an endearing ability to laugh at themselves. The addition of inflatable sharks, beach balls and 6 foot pizza slices have the punters in the palm of their hand. The scene is set for the main act and the excitement is palpable.
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Guitarist/vocalist Jaret Reddick, guitarist Chris Burney, drummer Gary Wiseman and bassist Erik Chandler are in their third decade as a band and they look comfortable as they take to the Glasgow stage. Proudly referencing their first ever ‘white wall’ background and a staffed bar complete with bow-tied barman on stage, this was always going to be a spectacle.
Opening with the full-on classic ‘The Last Rock Show’, the room is instantly brought to life again and there is a slight relief on the faces of the band who had been rushed in their load-in and sound check earlier in the afternoon. Reddick’s warmth and ability to engage a room is powerful as he honestly pleads with the room to ignore any mistakes made in playing tracks that have not been performed live in what seems like an age.
Ploughing through classics ‘Emily’ and a surprisingly early ‘Girl All The Bad Guys Want’, the band laugh and exchange jokes and insults only to be interrupted by some in the crowd who weren’t afraid to show some flesh in tribute to the show. Reddick laughs and says “We haven’t had boobies flashed at us in a long time…We’re like Guns n’ Roses except we started on time!”.
The show was kept fresh and engaging throughout with sublime performances of life-defining ‘Punk Rock 101’ and ‘Bitch’ – providing those present with a journey through an accomplished back catalogue. A brief interlude to afford the adoring fans a photo opportunity is heralded with a belting recording of Dave Lee Roth’s ‘Yankee Rose’…..in Spanish! The references to the legendary Kerrang reviewing the show, are peppered through the gig and Reddick unashamedly complains that Iron Maiden are the only band to ever receive a five ‘K’ rating. Cue a few bars of Maiden’s ‘Wasted Years’!
The prospect of ‘1985’ being played at some point is emphasised between songs by the countdown timer on the whitewall being set, reset and set again - all to keep the crowd engaged and amused. Anyone who wasn’t amused by this couldn’t resist the comedy of Reddick’s (Game of Thrones’) Jon Snow impression….and his failure to get it right (much to his annoyance).
Aside from the laughs, this is a loose, passionate show with hit after hit delivered with odd mistakes and encouraging nods across the stage between the band. The inevitable encore comes fuelled by red wine and vodka with the guitar melodies of ‘Star Song’ and the nostalgic ‘1985’. This is an audience with a vast age range – an observation that proves this band have a broad appeal. Kids dancing above in the circle, adults losing their inhibitions and evil looking metal heads smiling from ear to ear are all things that prove the attraction of this band of brothers.
As the show draws to a close and the house lights spring to life, there is a warmth in the room. Glasgow’s streets absorb the happy, exhausted fans as they return to their lives happy in the knowledge they had caught a band on a special night. They heard ‘Drunk Enough to Dance’ in full….and heard the worst Jon Snow impression this side of the River Clyde.
The Last Rock Show
I Don’t Wanna Rock
Girl All the Bad Guys Want
On and On
Life After Lisa
Where to Begin
Punk Rock 101
The Hard Way
The Bitch Song
Out the Window
Cold Shower Tuesdays
Running From Your Dad
High School Never Ends
She’s Got A Boyfriend
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