Mayday Parade + Real Friends + As It Is @ O2 Institute, Birmingham – 6th June 2022

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I don’t know if tonight’s openers As It Is have been overdosing on caffeine but they’re a hyperactive bunch who arrive like a gang of whirling dervishes, and don’t slow down for 30 blistering minutes. Vocalist Patty Walters, in particular, bounces around the stage as if on springs while guitarist Ronnie Ish seems intent on engaging with the whole crowd. However, As It Is aren’t all frenetic energy and ‘In Threes’ (from latest album I Went To Hell And Back) trades speed for groove and ensures their set ebbs and flows perfectly. But in whatever gear the band operate there’s a strong sense of melody acting as an anchor which ensures the band don’t fly off the rails. ‘Dial Tones’ makes for a fitting finale and when band and audience connect, as they did tonight, it’s a magical thing.

With their explosive performance As It Is set the bar high for the rest of the evening and Illinois’ Real Friends immediately rise to the challenge. New vocalist Cody Muraro (joined in 2020) has injected fresh blood and he seems intent on making the vocal spot his own. Delivering a throat-shredding display from the get go, ‘Me First’ has the crowd riled up and the hardcore faithful at stage front sing along with every word. Real Friends remind me of New York’s Polar Bear Club (only updated for the new decade) and there’s a nice raw edge to their sound that grates well with their pop sensibility. New track ‘Never Surrender’ bodes well for the future and, on the strength of tonight’s set, Real Friends have made many new chums.

It’s my second time seeing Mayday Parade inside a calender year and I’m pleased to report that they’re a band who age like a fine malt liquor. This current tour was originally scheduled to celebrate the tenth anniversary of their third album, Mayday Parade, but Covid put the scuppers on that, however, just like the band that produced it, this album has only grown in stature as time has elapsed. Starting with the opening track from that album ‘Oh Well, Oh Well’ gets the set off to a lively start and Derek Sanders’ a cappella is joined by 1,000 voices and when the back kick it the venue erupts into a sea of smiles and you can feel the good vibes crackling between band and stage (and back again). Mayday Parade proceed to perform the album in full and turn a rainy Monday evening into a sparkling Saturday night. Until I heard Mayday Parade live I never really appreciated just how good it was and the three-point harmonies on tracks such as ‘When You See My Friends’ bring out new dimensions previously buried in the studio, and the sheer joie de vivre with which the songs are played gives the songs extra impetuous and oomph.

The only thing that could follow Mayday Parade is a few of the band’s best songs and the first of four encores ‘Kids Of Summer’ gets the whole venue grooving and, from that sun kissed song, we return to the band’s genesis with ‘Miserable At Best’. Perfectly summarising the band’s modus operandi ‘Jamie All Over’ wraps longing lyrics in a delicious melody and its buoyant beat ensures that no one leaves disappointed.

 

  • Reviewed by Peter Dennis.

 

Mayday Parade Set List:

  1. Oh Well, Oh Well
  2. No Heroes Allowed
  3. When You See My Friends
  4. You’re Dead Wrong
  5. Priceless
  6. Stay
  7. Call Me Hopeless, Not Romantic
  8. A Shot Across The Bow
  9. Everything’s An Illusion
  10. I’d Rather Make Mistakes Than Nothing At All
  11. Without The Bitter The Sweet Isn’t So Sweet
  12. Happy Endings Are Stories That Haven’t Ended Yet

Encores:

  1. Kids Of Summer
  2. Miserable At Best
  3. Jersey
  4. Jamie All Over