Papa Roach @ O2 Academy, Birmingham – Tuesday 17th March 2015


Review by Sophie Maughan, photos by Alex Peace

As this very excitable Midlands Rocks scribe steps into a packed Academy tonight, I am immediately aware of two things – the sweltering temperature and the palpable sense of anticipation hanging in the dense air. This excitement is justified given the fact that this is Papa Roach’s first headline tour of the UK in two years, and also as this April will mark fifteen years since the release of multi-platinum triumph Infest. It’s almost enough to make me feel ancient, but a quick glance around the room at the all-ages crowd is a testament to the California natives’ ever continuing appeal.

London rockers The One Hundred and Japanese five-piece Coldrain do an admirable job of entertaining the throng with their respective electronic and screamo / post-hardcore stylings, but it’s evident from the rising “PAPA ROACH!” chants that everyone is itching for the main act. Our collective patience is duly rewarded as the house lights dim and the band erupt into an absolutely ferocious rendition of ‘Face Everything And Rise’. Fists are pumping and bodies are flying as irrepressible frontman Jacoby Shaddix proceeds to throw himself around the stage like a man on a mission. And it is a mission to rock the absolute shit out of Birmingham. His bellow of “Let’s GO!” segues straight into ‘Getting Away With Murder’ and the atmosphere reaches such electrifying levels that my hair is practically on fire. Whilst there’s no denying Shaddix’s presence, this ain’t a one man show and I’m equally impressed with the rhythm section tonight– namely some monstrous riffage courtesy of guitarist Jerry Horton. In fact there’s enough sonic beef on display here to convert the most devout of souls to the dark side.

Papa Roach
Papa Roach

The between song banter is colourful (“fuck yeah you motherfuckers rock – bang your fuckin’ heads”) but nonetheless engaging and with the inclusion of fan favourites such as ‘Between Angels And Insects’, ‘Broken Home’ and ‘Hollywood Whore’, it’s only a matter of time before the pits open up and the room splits for the first of three wall of deaths. Vocals are on point and weave seamlessly between pure belligerence and raw, earnest passion; the latter of which can be heard on anthemic (and dedicated to us ladies) ballad ‘Forever’. The ’Roach contingent continue to illustrate their musical versatility as they drop hidden-track-from-Infest ‘Tightrope’ into the setlist. A rarity in a live capacity, this aural banger is a little bit dub, a lot of reggae and ridiculously catchy to boot – oh, and we also get to witness Jacoby throwing a shape or three atop of a speaker. Now there’s an image that will be stuck in many a head from here on in.

Papa Roach
Papa Roach

A gloriously tech-drenched ‘Warriors’ and a bouncing ‘Still Swingin’ round off an electrifying set which is the signal for the guys to disappear before bulldozing their way through a stunning encore comprised of ‘Last Resort’, ‘Scars’ and my personal fave‘…To Be Loved’. Just yes. ‘Last Resort’ sounds fucking colossal – so much so that you could be forgiven for believing that it’s 2000 all over again. My inner teenager is loose and not even a renegade trainer to the skull is enough to wipe the grin off my face. As the band takes their final bow to rapturous applause and their cries of “Birmingham we love you!” reverberate around the venue one last time, the feeling is most definitely mutual. Papa Roach are back – and they’ve got nothing to fear.

1. Face Everything And Rise
2. Getting Away With Murder
3. Between Angels And Insects
4. Where Did The Angels Go?
5. Harder Than A Coffin Nail
6. Blood Brothers
7. Broken As Me
8. Hollywood Whore
9. Broken Home
10. Tightrope
11. Kick In The Teeth
12. Lifeline
13. Warriors
14. Still Swingin’

15. Last Resort
16. Scars
17. …To Be Loved


See more of Alex’s photos from the show here