REVIEW: Bowling For Soup, O2 Academy, Newcastle

Bowling For Soup at the O2 Academy in Newcastle. Pic: Katy Blackwood
Bowling For Soup at the O2 Academy in Newcastle. Pic: Katy Blackwood
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Texan pop-punks Bowling For Soup attracted a full house for their return to the North East and put on a show to match.

The band, known for their longevity in the genre and hits including Girl All The Bad Guys Want, impressed with their energy and self-deprecating jokes.

Bowling For Soup's Jaret Reddick at the O2 Academy in Newcastle. Pic: Katy Blackwood

Bowling For Soup's Jaret Reddick at the O2 Academy in Newcastle. Pic: Katy Blackwood

A setlist consisting of their best-known songs helped to spark the party mood, as did high-octane supports including nerdcore star MC Lars.

Some of the whimsical chatter between songs - a stable of pop-punk - had a tendency to drag on, particularly when guitarist Erik laboured through a long stretch of KISS impersonations.

It was the second night of their How About Another Round tour, and frontman Jaret Reddick joked about becoming an adopted Geordie and promised they would return again soon.

Bowling For Soup's ability to pack out the main room of the Academy at this stage of their career is an achievement in itself, and they brought along three supports for the ride.

Bowling For Soup's at the O2 Academy in Newcastle. Pic: Katy Blackwood

Bowling For Soup's at the O2 Academy in Newcastle. Pic: Katy Blackwood

The first, MC Lars, played three separate sets - all around 10 minutes long - featuring solo raps set to laptop beats, including his famous pro-piracy anthem Download This Song and an entertaining freestyle.

While hugely enjoyable, each set only highlighted the shortcomings of the subsequent supports, Lacey and regular Bowling For Soup collaborators The Dollyrots.

The female-fronted Dollyrots had their moments, however, including a curious yet-fun cover of The Wurzels' Combine Harvester (Brand New Key) and an original with a suspiciously similar drum beat to Iggy Pop's Lust For Life.

MC Lars was back to introduce Bowling For Soup, hyping the crowd up for the arrival of the band for their first Newcastle date in more than two years.

Bowling For Soup's Chris Burney at the O2 Academy in Newcastle. Pic: Katy Blackwood

Bowling For Soup's Chris Burney at the O2 Academy in Newcastle. Pic: Katy Blackwood

Their last visit was as part of their Farewell Tour, advertised as their final UK shows at the time, although the band never formally split up, and returned for festival appearances shortly thereafter.

Formed in 1994, they broke into the public consciousness from 2002, as Girl All The Bad Guys Want became a bonafide pop hit, while 1985 and Punk Rock 101 became staples of rock playlists.

And, despite never being pin-ups in the same way as Green Day or Blink-182, their pulling power as a live band is clearly rivalled by few of their contemporaries.

With no new album to promote, their set was a nostalgic collection of fan favourites, many included on their 2014 compilation Songs People Actually Liked.

Bowling For Soup's Jaret Reddick at the O2 Academy in Newcastle. Pic: Katy Blackwood

Bowling For Soup's Jaret Reddick at the O2 Academy in Newcastle. Pic: Katy Blackwood

All were enthusiastically performed, and the frequent opportunities for a singalong gratefully received by a rowdy, cross-generational audience.

Also featured was a medley of other band's songs, featuring the likes of Good Charlotte and New Found Glory, before the band shifted into a cover of Stacy's Mom by Fountains Of Wayne.

This, plus the lack of a new album as a whole, makes Bowling For Soup seem something of a nostalgia band, but they seem wholly keen to live their musical twilight years to the full rather than phone it in for the profit.

Bowling For Soup may be pop-punk's past rather than its future, but this was a triumphant return that highlighted their place in its present, and with the promise to return soon it is not likely to be their final round.

The show's main let down was the pre-rehearsed banter, which seemed a little tired, while some of frontman Reddick's jokes were unusually crass.

But any time the lengthy chatter wore thin, the opening chords of a familiar song lit the room right back up, and the audience seldom remained subdued for long.

Bowling For Soup's Gary Wiseman at the O2 Academy in Newcastle. Pic: Katy Blackwood

Bowling For Soup's Gary Wiseman at the O2 Academy in Newcastle. Pic: Katy Blackwood

Bowling For Soup at the O2 Academy in Newcastle. Pic: Katy Blackwood

Bowling For Soup at the O2 Academy in Newcastle. Pic: Katy Blackwood

The Dollyrots were one of the support acts for Bowling For Soup at the O2 Academy in Newcastle. Pic: Katy Blackwood.

The Dollyrots were one of the support acts for Bowling For Soup at the O2 Academy in Newcastle. Pic: Katy Blackwood.