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Fueling the Fire Tour 2017, O2 Ritz, Manchester

  • Published in Live

After the success of last year’s first ever fuelling the fire tour, fireball returned this year with an even bigger line up to satisfy out taste buds. This year’s line-up had them pulling out all the ska-punk big dogs, Mad Caddies, Anti-Flag and Reel Big Fish and new foot stomping favourites Sweet Little Machine all for the ridiculously cheap price of £10!

Upon arrival, local pop-punk five piece Everyone and Anyone who won the local competition that ran, are pleasing a rather empty crowd. Despite the first night of a 10 day run being sold out, it would appear that the early door time of 6:00pm on a Wednesday night has led to most people missing the talented band. The Rhyl based band play tracks from sophomore EP A Page from a Journal, which is full pop-punk attitude and infested with heartfelt lyrics which the band bring energetically to the stage. The latest single ‘Hanging on a Cigarette’ allows vocalist Rob to show off his unique raw voice, which is unusual to find in a pop punk band, giving them a stamp of originality,  gets a few audience members singing along from the quiet crowd. But don’t be shocked if you soon find these guys filling out venues, they certainly won over the small audience and deservedly so. 

Fireball’s very own Sweet Little Machine were up next and they have been a name cropping up a lot recently after a lot of festival appearances this year. Despite relentless touring though, the band brought nothing but 100% energy and charisma to the stage, even after a small hiccup with the bass during opening song ‘Who Killed the Hero’. Leading man Alex Lantrua oozes charm and easily has the crowd eating out of the palm of his hand, even during ‘D!ckwad prickface’ in which he has the whole crowd screaming ‘fuck you Dec’ to an audience member. The band close on EP titled track ‘Monsters’ which gets the crowd moving and leaves everyone knowing why they were named as Fireballs Hottest Band of 2017.

Manchester Ritz is packed, flooding with brightly coloured hair and Mohawks by the time Mad Caddies arrive to the stage. There is no denying that Mad Caddies are hailed as one of the longest standing and pioneers of ska-punk music, and that becomes apparent when watching them live. It is clear that the whole audience is fully ready for the Caddies as they open with ‘Lay Your Head Down’ before continuing to play hit after hit such as ‘Backyard’, ‘Shoot out Lights’ and ‘Brand New Scar’ as well as many more. They have very little say or very little to prove to an audience who awaits impatiently for the next song from a band that despite such a long successful career, hardly ever seem to come to the UK. The crowd-pleasing ‘Monkeys’ sends the crowd into a frenzy causing the floor to quiet literally bounce whilst ‘Drinking for 11’ has everyone holding onto one another, rocking back and forth, singing their hearts out. The band close on a rather unusual choice of ‘Dixtress’ and exit, leaving the crowd begging for more from the Californian heroes. 

Anti-Flag are a rather heavy choice for a ska-punk-infused line up, but that doesn’t mean that they aren’t going to bring their A game. It is clear from the chatter and choice of clothing from the crowd that they are one of the main reasons many people are here. The energy that rips through the crowd during their set in the mosh pits is intense and is a long way from the fun loving skanking during Mad Caddies set. The four piece use this set to stand their ground on their political views, giving lengthy speeches after each song, but the crowd doesn’t appear to batter an eyelid and hang on their every word. They cause the most memorable moment of the night with their remarkable cover of The Clash’s ‘Should I Stay or Should I Go’ which has the whole sold out venue screaming back at them. 

By the time Reel Big Fish walk onto the stage, the audience is both nicely pissed from the free fireball shots being passed about, exhausted from the sheer amount of dancing and slightly disturbed at how brilliant of a DJ Pennywise is. Reel Big Fish are a band that everyone knows at least one song by, whether they are aware is it by them or not, and no that does not include cover songs. Despite them often being mocked as a ska-cover band, they have a huge amount of original songs that this audience have learnt off by heart. The always fun ‘Everyone else is an arsehole’ is absolutely beautiful to hear sang by 1500 people, just as is nearly every disgustingly catchy song by Reel Big Fish. The set list takes the crowd on a travel back to the past when everything seemed much easier, with tracks ‘ Drinkin’, ‘Sell Out’, ‘Everything Sucks’ and ‘She Has a Girlfriend Now’ with a special guest appearance from Sonic Boom Six’s Monique Powell. The band close with a very fitting ‘Beer’ to a nicely extremely pissed crowd before returning to send the crowd into total madness with their cover of ‘Take on Me’. 

The whole night was a drunk infused, leg breaking, fun but sweaty travel down memory lane to much easier days and one that the whole sold audience quiet clearly enjoyed. The large amount of empty plastic cups and deflated mowhawks and sweaty smiles leaving the Ritz proved that. 



Anti-Flag – American Spring

  • Published in Albums

Pittsburgh-based Anti-Flag have always endeavoured to deliver their musical statements through their work and their new album American Spring is no different. The album’s social and political critique of the current climate as well as the album’s artwork is sure to prompt conversation, which was the intention and why punk was initially founded. Anti-Flag want to challenge views of violence and peace whilst inspiring change, which is quite evident throughout their new album and makes listening to the album much more of an interesting experience, and brings you something new on each playthrough.

‘Sky is Falling’ is a commentary on the American drone strikes and acknowledges the feelings of those on the wrong end of those strikes lyrically with powerful lines including: “There's no help coming because no one cares / The world just sits by, waiting for us to die…” The repetition of “the sky is falling down” and “I know it’s much too late” show how much Anti-Flag want this message to come across. The track doesn’t fail to deliver musically either, with a strong guitar solo and powerful backing throughout which only adds to the powerful message.

My personal favourite track has to be ‘Brandenburg Gate’, not only is it quite catchy and anthemic for a punk album, but it has the unique vocal backing of Rancid’s Tim Armstrong. The song lends itself to the addition of Armstrong’s vocals, and whilst it discusses greed, passion and sin, it’s the music which you will remember after listening.

The album doesn’t disappoint when it comes to a socio-political commentary on modern life with lyrics such as “We live in a fabled world, where the poor and the weak, are pawns for profit’s sake” from ‘Fabled World’ and “Away, away I can't get away / From masses we shadows, from masses we can't escape” from ‘All of the Poison, All of the Pain’, allowing the listener to question their beliefs and think of others. This is all backed with what is more pop punk than some of their earlier work but is still an awesome listen. This album is definitely for those who want to challenge their own beliefs.

American Spring is available from Amazon and iTunes.

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