By Adam Smith
Following a near-sell out tour in November, the self-proclaimed purveyors of realist pop punk are back on UK shores as part of their mammoth touring schedule in support of The Greatest Generation.
With every headline tour, The Wonder Years bring lesser-known bands with them to keep the scene fresh and healthy. Tonight is no different, as State Champs and A Loss For Words are in tow, highlighting the burgeoning state of modern pop-punk.
State Champs play with all the zest and confidence of veterans. Every note is delivered perfectly and vocalist Derek Discanio bounces around the stage with limitless enthusiasm. Critical and Elevated are hits in the making and the New Yorkers are warmly received by the Nottingham faithful. The Finer Things received significant attention from the music press in 2013 and it’s a joy to see the band recreate the infectious energy of their debut in a live setting.
Unlike State Champs, A Loss For Words are no strangers to the UK and have worked tirelessly over the last four years for their big break in the country. Thanks to their latest opus, Before It Caves, ALFW are armed with the songs to make a bigger impact in Europe, but seem consigned to support band status.
On the evidence of their set tonight, it’s baffling that they’re not more popular. Older tracks such as Stamp of Approval go down well, while their cover of the Jackson 5’s I Want You Back could start a party in a hospital waiting room. A Loss For Words have all the tools to be headlining these venues themselves. Hopefully their next album will help them make the step up.
Opening with There, There is a sign of things to come from The Wonder Years tonight, as most of the set is derived from The Greatest Generation, which is in no way a bad move. The reaction to Passing Through A Screen Door is euphoric, while Devil In My Bloodstream is met with the kind of raw emotion that is seldom witnessed at pop-punk gigs.
There are parts of the set where fatigue seems to catch up to them. Everything I Own Fits In This Backpack isn’t performed with the gusto associated with the band; however, after 10 weeks of touring, they can definitely be forgiven for showing signs of tiredness.
It’s towards the end of the set where The Wonder Years truly illustrate exactly why they’re so venerated. A new, punchier version of Living Room Song sounds fantastic, before Washington Square Park and Come Out Swinging close the main set in triumphant style. A quick encore delay then follows before an emotionally intense performance of I Just Want To Sell Out My Funeral ends the night in breathtaking fashion.
Next stop, Leeds and Reading in August!