By Jacqueline Grima
Thousands of excited fans of Chicago group, Fall Out Boy, gathered at the Manchester Arena this week as the band brought their world tour to the UK.
As fans entered the building, the Arena was already buzzing, an early set by Londoner, Charley Marley, meaning that there was no waiting around in a quiet auditorium and, from the outset, no chance of anyone in the mixed-age crowd getting bored. Charley was swiftly followed by New York alternative dance duo, Matt and Kim, who roused the crowd with a fantastic display of pop-punk-style songs, amazing drumming skills and some brave crowd-surfing. An excited Kim also gave the front rows a present of five hundred balloons to blow up. Next came a half-hour set from UK rapper, Professor Green, whose well-known hits, ‘Monster’, ‘Just Be Good to Green’ and ‘Read All About It’ had the fans jumping for joy.
By the time the main set came around, the atmosphere in the arena was electric, the huge crowd already on their feet as they anticipated the arrival of the band everyone had come to see: singer Patrick Stump, bassist and fan-favourite, Pete Wentz, guitarist, Joe Trohman and drummer, Andy Hurley. When Fall Out Boy finally came to the stage, beginning with an amazingly-loud rendition of their 2005 hit ‘Sugar, We’re Goin’ Down’, a massive roar almost lifted the roof from the building.
In the past couple of years, Fall Out Boy have caused some controversy in the music business, a change of image, particularly by frontman, Patrick Stump whose 65lb weight loss was followed by an advisory slot on US hit show, American Idol, leading to accusations that the band have ‘sold out’. Indeed, their 2015 album, American Beauty/American Psycho definitely has a more mainstream vibe than previous albums, their usual quirky song titles such as ‘I Slept With Someone In Fall Out Boy And All I Got Was This Stupid Song Written About Me’ now replaced by more traditional titles like ‘Centuries’ and ‘Immortals’.
If die-hard fans of the group were preparing themselves for disappointment, however, they were in for a big surprise as the band went on to thrill both old and new fans alike with a mixture of songs from all of their albums, the crowd loving hearing 2015 hit single ‘Uma Thurman’ alongside oldies like ‘The Phoenix’ and ‘Dance Dance’. Indeed, with the whole of the audience on its feet, none of Fall Out Boy’s much-loved ‘quirkiness’ or alternative vibe seemed to have been lost during the show.
The band played for an hour and a half, a shorter gig, you might think, than some put on by stadium bands such as Foo Fighters, who are renowned for their 2 to 3 hour sets. However, with little talking in between songs, the show was none-stop, the band playing hit after hit after hit almost without pause. Indeed, the only chance the audience had to take a breath was when the boys suddenly left the stage, the crowd quiet for a few moments as they wondered what was happening.
Only moments later, Patrick, Pete and Joe delighted fans in the back rows by reappearing at the back of the Arena. They then made their way through the crowd, their path strictly cordoned off by security, to a small centre stage where they played a short acoustic set. Afterwards, as the band made their way back to the main stage, the audience was treated to an amazing drum solo by the heavily-tattooed Andy, putting his drumming skills well and truly on a par with all of his great rock drumming peers.
After a two-song encore, including a fantastic rendition of ‘My Songs Know What You Did In The Dark (Light ‘Em Up)’, the show was over, almost everyone in the crowd by now sweating and exhausted from dancing. As the fans poured out of the arena, each and every one sporting a huge post-gig smile, I got the feeling that this was a show that would be talked about for a long time to come.