• Charlotte Hardman

Fall Out Boy + support at Manchester Arena, 29/03/2018

Going from being an unknown band rattling around the Chicago underground circuit, to one of the biggest bands of the early 2000s emo and pop punk movement, surviving a four-year hiatus and still be topping charts across the globe fifteen years into your career is no mean feat, but as impossible as it may seem, they are all accolades that the iconic Fall Out Boy hold. The band are currently touring in support of their 8th full length studio album, MANIA, and despite the initially mixed responses to the record, the band have still managed to pack out Manchester Arena full of fervent fans, young and old, and the blend of anticipation and nostalgia in the room was palpable from the moment you stepped through the doors- tonight, a family was coming home once again.

Opening up the show was the veritable explosion of colour, energy and synths that was dance duo Max. Fronted by the eponymous singer, Max combined infectious dance beats and rhythms with a relentless energy characterised by the blindingly sparkly jacket and impressive acrobatics of the enigmatic frontman. But it wasn’t all show- behind the flamboyant character was genuine talent which shone through in the Brendon-Urie esque high notes peppered through the melody that gave a spark of uniqueness to counteract the songs’ somewhat unoriginal lyrics. Creative ingenuity aside, Max certainly did their job and warmed the atmosphere in the room nicely for when pop rock trio Against the Current took to the stage. No strangers to the arena stage, Against the Current’s impressive touring history was evident in the confidence with which frontwoman Chrissy Costanza owned every corner of the stage, overshadowing the crowd’s slightly muted response with an energy and passion all of her own. From the fist pumping anthem of teenage rebellion that is ‘Running With the Wild Things’ to the echoing, kaleidoscopic ‘Wasteland’, Against the Current showcased pop rock at its finest, and their humble demeanour following each track’s soaring conclusion only endeared them even more to the crowd.

If the atmosphere in the room had been simmering away nicely through the opening bands, it was set to explode the second the floor of the stage slid open to reveal the four guys who had brought the entire room together, not just as people sharing a concert experience, but as a family: Fall Out Boy. Rising up through the floor to thunderous applause and cheers, the band launched straight into ‘The Phoenix’, with its riffs as fiery as the pyro that erupted from the back of the stage with the swooping hook into the chorus! Through the haze of the smoke, one thing became absolutely clear.

This was going to be a show of biblical proportions.

And it didn’t disappoint. The show was packed full of magical moments, from the glittering sea of purple lights that filled the arena, swaying in time to the crescendo that builds throughout ‘Champion’, to the colossal ‘Centuries’ which, in a heartfelt speech, bassist Pete Wentz dedicated to Max, a young Fall Out Boy fan who lost his fight with cancer at the beginning of the year- a true testament to the love and strength of the community that this band have built up around them over their career. Not one corner of the room was left out of the fun, a fact ensured as the band were raised up on a huge rig to eye level with the third tier seats, drawing them into the fun for the wild abandon that ensued during ‘Dance, Dance’ and ‘Thnks fr th Mmrs’, which trembled with a barely contained anticipation that exploded into a full scale riot with the crashing blow of the chorus!

Each of the four members shone in their own ways throughout the entire show: frontman Patrick Stump’s vocals on ‘Save Rock and Roll’ flowed and climbed effortlessly, so much so that the absence of Elton John on the track was all but forgotten- no mean feat!- while Pete’s devious smiles and gut-punching bassline on insubordinate anthem of defiance ‘I Don’t Care’ had the entire crowd smiling, and more than a few swooning! Drummer Andy Hurley never let the relentless pace drop for a second through the crashing crescendo of ‘This Ain’t a Scene, it’s an Arms Race’; and guitarist Joe Trohman’s full commitment to each and every song despite the fact that his new baby girl was less than a week old was a testament to what an underappreciated legend he truly is.

The newer songs provided a welcome lull in the breakneck pace with which Fall Out Boy raced through their set- from the infectious dance rhythms of the Latin-fringed ‘Hold Me Tight or Don’t’, through the fist-pumping highs of ‘Wilson (Expensive Mistakes)’s crashing hooks and effervescent melody, to the unexpected but very welcome surprise of Patrick’s soft, melodic piano arrangement of ‘Young and Menace’, where each delicate note dripped with a palpable sweetness like warm honey. Yet the highlight of them all was the world live premiere of the sultry yet grandiose ‘Church’, with its angelic chorus of synths that melted in seamlessly with Patrick’s vocals, creating a soothing wave of delectable harmonies which echoed the cover of the album on which it resides.

As unexpectedly wonderful as the new songs were, nobody was in any doubt as to the highlight of the evening- the encore. Fall Out Boy dug deep into the archives to close the night, bringing out two of their greatest songs from their early career- one of which being the goosebump-inducing anthem that is ‘Thriller’, with its striking opening lines of poetry delivered by Jay-Z over a decade ago that boom out over a bed of crunchy guitars before the passion-packed chorus hits you like a freight train, making your heart pound with pride and your eyes glisten with emotion. A blistering blitz through the band’s smash-hit ‘Uma Thurman’ and their meaty comeback single ‘My Songs Know What You Did in the Dark’ brings us to the end of the night, and to the song that has closed countless Fall Out Boy shows since their earliest days performing at house shows and in the basements of clubs, a song penned by a group of teenagers and 20-somethings who had nothing but a couple of guitars, a drum-kit and a dream- ‘Saturday’. It is difficult to imagine that the veteran musicians who now stand before a crowd of thousands were once a group of four young guys, writing songs in the hope of maybe getting noticed, getting to play some shows and maybe making a little cash and getting a couple of free beers for their trouble. As the words to ‘Saturday’ reverberated around the room, pouring off the stage and being screamed back from the crowd in equal velocity, one thing was clear- the kids who were once going nowhere fast have finally found their place in the world. And it’s up on these huge stages, surrounded by the next generation of lost and forgotten kids: their home, as ours is, is with Fall Out Boy.

MANIA by Fall Out Boy is out NOW!