LIVE REVIEW: FALL OUT BOY – MANCHESTER ARENA [17/03/14]

Fall Out Boy

By Adam Smith

Tonight marks vindication for Fall Out Boy. After a few years on an “indefinite hiatus” – one of the most feared phrases in modern music – the Chicago natives are playing to one of the largest arenas in Europe.

It didn’t have to be this way. Save Rock and Roll, the band’s recent effort, divided their fan base. After their last release, Folie en Deux pushed the band into squeaky pop territory, many of their older fans wished for a return to the old-school pop-punk sound of From Under The Cork Tree and Take This To Your Grave.

Simply put, that didn’t happen. FOB embraced their pop sensibilities further and Save Rock and Roll even featured a cameo from Elton John. Ouch. The album was an indisputable commercial success.

Not only has their music changed, but their performance level and stage presence has improved remarkably. Patrick Stump is no longer shying away from the limelight. During The Phoenix, he covers every inch of the stage, with every note performed with the bravado and showmanship usually associated with Justin Timberlake.

Irrespective of the criticism surrounding Save Rock and Roll, Fall Out Boy unequivocally put on a better show than they did in 2009. There are enough older tracks to keep long-time fans happy, too. Thriller is played with more punch than ever before and a double whammy of I Slept With Someone in Fall Out Boy… and A Little Less Sixteen Candles… leaves the crowd enraptured.

A power cut halts proceedings for around five minutes, with Stump desperately trying to keep the show going acoustically. Unfortunately, he can’t be heard, but it isn’t long before This Ain’t A Scene lifts everyone off their feet.

The highlight of the show is a two-song acoustic set on the sound desk. Grand Theft Autumn and a rare performance of Sophomore Slump bring some much-needed intimacy to the gig. Momentarily, FOB make the 22,000-capacity venue feel like a pub.

Those who were hoping to finally “click” with the new songs in a live setting will be left disappointed. Death Valley sounds dull regardless of Stump’s stunning vocal delivery, while the only impressive part of My Songs Know What You Did in the Dark is the lights show. The new album’s title track does sound massive, however; its huge harmonies mean it is tailor-made for these cavernous venues.

Fittingly, Fall Out Boy end the set where it all started with Saturday. It’s a shame more people don’t know the words, but it’s a triumphant ending to the night for those singing along.

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