Fall Out Boy had somewhat of a dilemma when it came to this year’s European tour.
The problem was that this was the first time they’d been back to Britain to do a nationwide headlining tour since their hiatus and, despite two incredibly different albums having been released since then, the fans expected a lot.
And so they should.
When your favourite band goes off the radar for several years, leaving hundreds upon thousands of fans pining after their existence, they had better bring their A-Game when they decide to come back. Sure, there was that time when they did those two tiny shows in London, but how could we possibly know the full extent how brilliant those gigs were when 99.9% of their fan base didn’t get a ticket?
Enter Wembley: 20th March 2014.
It was blatant from the blankets that the hardcore fans had been camped outside the arena for several, incredibly cold, hours before the doors opened. What I found most remarkable though, was that these fans weren’t young teenagers, excited for one of their first rock concerts. They were young adults – I mean 20 years old, perhaps even older. While not exactly middle aged, I know from experience that camping out for a gig is not for the faint hearted, and I certainly wouldn’t participate in such an extreme act of loyalty anymore. Those days are gone, left behind me in the distant memory of being 13.
But that’s exactly the point. Loyalty. Fall Out Boy managed to create a magnificent legacy within less than a decade of being the kings of pop-punk. Their fans stood strong, hoping for the day they would reunite and bless them with their presence once more. Well, today was that day, hence the camp outs from fans who had been around for the earliest incarnation of Fall Out Boy, right back to the days of ‘Take This To Your Grave’.
As is expected from gigs, the crowd had to endure the painful wait for Fall Out Boy while the support bands tried their hardest to get a reaction from the crowd. For that, I don’t envy them.
First up was Danish born alt-rockers, New Politics. There was several things about their performance that left me unable to make a thorough analysis of their music (this being the first I’d encountered of the band), and this frustrated me immensely.
As their opening number began to play, the entire crowd started to wince. That bass! Lacking in an actual bass guitar player, the band used a backing track which has been turned up far, far, far too high and left literally dozens of people in the first few rows clamping their hands to their ears in pain. It was an uncomfortable experience, but one that didn’t seem to repeat itself once the first song was over.
The next thing that I found slightly… distracting about New Politics was their showmanship on stage. While their music wasn’t particularly bad (but then again, nor was it life changing), the thing I imagine they believed to make them interesting, new and different was the way that guitarist Søren Hansen threw his equipment (no literally, he threw it) all across the stage and how lead singer David Boyd would start spontaneously break dancing every other song.
Credit to them, it was entertaining to watch but personally, I would have preferred to be able to remember their songs rather than their on stage acrobatics. Although I’ll admit, I won’t ever forget the moment on the last song when Hansen gave up entirely on playing his guitar, having broken all but two strings, and threw his guitar 10 feet in the air, just to let it fall and hit the ground.
Next up: The Pretty Reckless. A rather popular band in their own right, many of the crowd seemed just as excited to see Taylor Momsen and co. as they were Fall Out Boy. Having seen them now, I can almost understand why.
With a hard rock sound and the powerhouse that is Taylor Momsen on vocals, this band completely owned Wembley Arena for the brief time they spent on it. Momsen almost gives off this aura which means you can’t take your eyes off the peroxide blonde temptress that she is. I say temptress not in the way that her attire caught the eye, but the way that her voice – so powerful, alluring and perfect for hard rock – enticed you like a siren would lure in sailors. Her charisma, spouting most likely from her acting days, kept your eye solely focused on her.
Nevertheless, the band as a whole gave a solid and enjoyable performance which seemed to please the crowd no end. As they left the stage, they certainly left behind them a buzz, as Wembley Arena prepared itself for what many of the crowd had waited for since that god awful hiatus began in 2009.
The lights dimmed and the band emerged dressed in black, with masks concealing their faces. They leaped straight into ‘The Phoenix’ from their latest album ‘Save Rock and Roll’, and oh, how the crowd roared with excitement. The screens behind displayed the video that accompanied the single, not that anyone in the arena paid any attention to that. What was more exciting was the four men stood proudly in front of them. Joe, Andy, Patrick and Pete respectively from our left to right. Fall Out Boy were here.
First off, don’t let it be said that Fall Out Boy don’t care about the fans, as immediately after their first song, bassist Pete Wentz requested that everyone in the standing area of the arena take a few steps back to allow those at the front a little breathing room. Obviously the uncomfortable faces of myself and those around me left him a little concerned about our safety.
After this brief pause, the band gave us an older classic to enjoy and threw themselves into the fan favourite, snappily titled ‘I Slept With Someone In Fall Out Boy and All I Got Was This Stupid Song Written About Me’ – mimicked by a fan who held up a sign claiming all she didn’t get was a drumstick (luckily for her, I believe she got one at the end of the gig).
Performed to perfection and kick-starting nostalgia in the hearts of all those who adored the band’s second album ‘From Under The Cork Tree’, this song ended and lead directly into the succeeding song from the same album ‘A Little Less Sixteen Candles, A Little More Touch Me’. Another big hit – but then again, there wasn’t any that weren’t.
The first part of the set continued on in perfect fashion, with singles ‘This Ain’t A Scene, It’s An Arms Race’, ‘Sugar We’re Going Down’ and Michael Jackson cover ‘Beat It’ all performed in the first half, along with a couple of new hits such as ‘Alone Together’ and the dubstep oddball ‘Death Valley’, both from album ‘Save Rock and Roll’. As they finished performing ‘Beat It’ the band left the stage – odd, considering this couldn’t be the end of the set?
Of course, thanks to the marvel of the internet, most fans knew that what followed was an acoustic set in the centre of the arena for all to see. The band performed what, for me, was the highlight of the entire show – an acoustic adaptation of ‘Sophomore Slump or Comeback of the Year’. An odd choice, as if any ‘…Cork Tree’ song were to be performed acoustically it would have to be ‘Nobody Puts Baby In The Corner’, considering a version of that exists as a B Side. Nevertheless, it was nothing short of perfection, with gorgeous guitars and Patrick Stump’s impeccable lead vocals being showcased in a way that can’t quite be appreciated fully when electric guitars and drums tend to crowd it.
After performing a song from the third album and second album respectively (including ‘I’m Like A Lawyer With The Way I’m Always Trying To Get You Off (Me & You)’ and ‘Grand Theft Autumn/Where Is Your Boy’), the boys journeyed back from the centre of the arena whilst drummer Andy Hurley performed a brief drum solo for our entertainment. Although I have to admit, I can’t help but notice the similarity in structure to Blink-182’s European Tour of 2012, where pretty much the same things happened. Coincidence…?
Fall Out Boy finished off the main stunt of their set with a handful more favourites, including hit song ‘Dance, Dance’ which punched the crowd back into shape after the calm of the acoustic set; it also had fans drawing their Patrick Stump trademark love-hearts in the air with pride and adoration. The set ended with FOB’s comeback single of last year, ‘My Songs Know What You Did In The Dark’, a song that Wentz referred to as a ‘love letter’ to us, the fans.
Of course, anyone who’s been to a gig before or knows anything about modern music knows that an encore is no longer an encore, but rather a mandatory “let’s go offstage for five seconds and then come back to play three more”. Not that anyone was complaining, as the encore was a beautifully devised trio, representing pretty much the three stages of Fall Out Boy’s career.
First up was a truly haunting and emotional performance of title track ‘Save Rock and Roll’, which had the crowd chanting along and admiring a slideshow of music icons that played behind Stump and his piano. Cheers were heard as favourites appeared – Michael Jackson, The Beatles, Nirvana… and so many more that were clearly influences of the band. What was slightly too self-indulgent for my tastes however, was the appearance of Fall Out Boy at the end. Were they suggesting they were on par with the legends, or part of the story of saving rock and roll?
Nevertheless, as the lively ‘Thnks fr th Mmrs’ came to a close and the crowd knew there was but one song left – and all Fall Out Boy fans knew which it would be – I could tell there was a fleeting moment of sadness that came over everyone as they learned that it was all over: the waiting, the wishing and the expectation of it all. They’d seen Fall Out Boy now, and speaking on behalf of everyone there, it was certainly a dream come true.
“I’m good to go…” were the words that caused a deafening scream across the arena, and everyone burst into song, singing the words of ‘Saturday’. It was an electrifying moment that made everyone forget that it was the last song – each member of the crowd just seemed to be enjoying every last minute, right up until Wentz let out that final scream, which he made as per tradition from the barrier of the crowd, trying not to get sucked in by ravenous fans, clutching to his chest.
It’s true that Fall Out Boy had a lot to show for themselves this year. After torturing their fans for 5 years, they were back. Different, but no less loved. And at Wembley Arena that night, they proved to the fans that they were back for the sheer reason that they loved to be there. The looks on the faces of each band member confirmed what I’d always known to be true – they adore being in Fall Out Boy and equally, we adore them being there. No doubt, we can’t wait for the next time they’re back.