Reviewed by Adam Smith
The Wonder Years have worked tirelessly to cultivate a strong following in the pop-punk scene and their latest release, The Greatest Generation, seems to have consolidated their status as one of the genre’s modern titans.
Playing Manchester as part of a short tour preceding the Vans Warped Tour event in London, tonight sees the band headline a venue they visited almost two years to the day as opening support for Saves The Day and Yellowcard – illustrating the Philadelphians’ increasing popularity.
Before the headliners hit the stage, Real Friends excel in their main support slot.
Many have tipped the band for great things and it’s easy to see why. Late Nights In My Car is greeted with delirium by those near the barrier while the rest of the crowd nod their heads in approval of one of the scene’s latest young upstarts. Although Real Friends are new to many in attendance tonight, The Wonder Years are familiar faces.
Soupy and co have been visiting the UK regularly since 2007, seeing their crowds increase gradually on each visit and tonight’s sold out crowd is a testament to the band’s hard work in a scene where haircuts often grab more attention than hard work. Passing Through A Screen Door lights up the venue, prompting mass sing-alongs from the get go and the energy levels simply do not drop for the rest of the set.
The Wonder Years mix things up with tracks from all of their albums besides their largely overlooked debut, with buoyant, bouncy tracks from The Upsides blending in well with material from their two most recent albums. The band are evidently on form. Mike Kennedy puts in an outstanding performance on drums, pounding his skins with venom to give each track extra bite. The Bastards, The Vultures, The Wolves in particular is given a completely new lease of life in the live setting.
Towards the end of the set, Devil In My Bloodstream becomes the highlight of the night, building up in majestic fashion before exploding to life with emphatic vocal delivery from Soupy.
As Come Out Swinging ends the night in sensational fashion amid circle pits and lost voices, tonight has illuminated The Wonder Years’ credentials as one of the best pop-punk bands on the planet.