A band that haven’t toured the UK in seven years could go one of two ways: either they start to drop in popularity or their fans grow more and more rabid awaiting their return. Last night proved Good Charlotte only incited the latter this side of the pond.
Before even entering the venue, it was clear to see the Maryland pop punk grandfathers had not only caught the older generation with their punky styling and pop hooks; many teens wearing shirts of the likes of All Time Low and Neck Deep lined the side of the building as they waited eagerly for the pop punk fest that was to ensue.
During the long wait before Waterparks hit the stage, emo and pop punk classics came one after the other: In Too Deep, Stacy’s Mom, Welcome To The Black Parade and (much to the thrill of the singalong crowd) Teenage Dirtbag. When they did finally come out, a familiar face joined frontman Awsten Knight and drummer Otto Wood which caused a flutter of comments like “I know him” and “is that who I think it is?” as he remained almost the elephant in the room for half the set. For those that were fans previously and knew of the Cluster EP however, it was clear who it was: My Chemical Romance‘s very own Mikey Way, who had played bass on the EP.
Awsten burst through tracks including Mad All The Time, Capes and Pink while doing a huge amount of spinning and jumping about the stage which passed on the youthful energy for the hungry crowd, lapping up the confidence of the band. Mikey added a presence to the stage that seemed to give the whole performance an air of legitimacy with his usual calm, quiet authority that was hard to put a finger on. It was clear to see though that he knows this band inside out and he’s thrilled to be involved with everything they do together.
Waterparks were self-depricating in many of their comments as they reminded everyone the “far superior” headliners were only moments away from entering the room and they announced it would be an incredible show. They were not wrong.
Good Charlotte came bounding onto the stage with a thrashing drumbeat from Dean and open guitar chording from Billy as they broke into The Anthem without even a greeting for the London crowd. Following it up with more songs from 2002 album The Young and the Hopeless in the shape of The Story Of My Old Man, My Bloody Valentine and Girls & Boys, the crowd were beginning to ease into the show and the dynamic nature it was beginning to take on. A botched set-speech, a quick history of the beginnings of the band and an explanation of quite what a “Riot Girl” is led into the track of the same name, which was dedicated to all those female members of the audience coming out to a pop punk show and incited even more of a crowd participation, almost as if the show was building to a climax.
Now time for the set speech, Joel asked twin brother Benji if they can play a new song Life Changes from this year’s Youth Authority album and needless to say the crowd knew every word as with the rest. Blasting through more tracks including Predictable, their favourite track of the new record The Outfield and fan favourite The Motivation Proclamation, Good Charlotte only broke their flow to crack another joke after Makeshift Love, with Joel asking how everyone’s life was going, and Benji following up asking if “life could get much better”, much to the groaning half-disapproval of the audience to their dad-style humour.
They then played trivia with the crowd asking what their first released track was called, and after wading through a few incorrect answers spontaneously broke into Little Things as soon as they heard the name mentioned. This then moved swiftly into The Young and the Hopeless before announcing the next song would be their last, but only after making a mockery of the mini-break bands take before coming on for the inevitable encore. Just another example of Good Charlotte not only breaking the mould but laughing at it. This song turned out to be The River, which built only more reaction and singalong as it progressed into “break-up song” I Don’t Wanna Be In Love (Dance Floor Anthem) and I Just Wanna Live and the band once more halted the climax building there.
“If you’ve seen us before, you know what’s coming,” were the words of Joel to announce the closing track. “If you haven’t seen us before, you’re just about to learn how we close a show,” brother Benji follows up. The hysteria that followed was second to none; this band have an ability to wrap a crowd around their fingers and not let them go until they leave the venue. Lifestyles of the Rich & Famous blaring through the PA combined with the crowd’s madness led to a level of almost pulling the ceiling down, a fitting close to an enormous show.