Review: Fireball tour hits Shepherd’s Bush
Punks Fireball Tour kicked off this weekend at the O2 Shepherd’s Bush Empire with a stacked bill, Amy Heather went down to check the action.
Arriving at almost 7:15pm, I had just enough time to grab my seat right in the centre of level 1, above the stalls before the music began. I never used to be a fan of seated gigs, but that all changed a few months ago and now I doubt I could ever go back.
I’d never seen a punk band live and was now actually pretty excited to be watching 3 in a row. Around 5 minutes went by until 4 men wearing black jeans and shirts made their way onto the stage. With a drummer that had enough facial hair to give everyone in the band a full beard, Face to Face looked more like a hard-core metal band rather than the energetic pop-punk they began playing. This is the moment I wondered why I’d neglected to listen to punk music for so long. The energy was relentless, with each musician positioned in a constant strong power stance (obviously except the drummer, but I guess his beard asserted enough dominance). All throughout their set I regretted not being in the stalls. From above, I could see the elation of the crowd moving up and down in time with flashing lights and fast paced songs. The music was an organised hysteria, with the band playing almost effortlessly without flaws, the building of sweat on their brows becoming the only indication of their hard work. I was bitterly disappointed when their set ended, I figured nothing could top the performance from 4 of the coolest 50-year old dudes I’d ever seen. I was so incredibly wrong.
The Bronx took to the stage whilst strobe lights flashed, a dark, creepy voice was heard and some unusual jungle-style music was playing. They began their set by hyping up the crowd, the lead singer shouting “motherfucker” between every other word. At first I was taken aback, but by the end, I was so here for it. The music was a hell of a lot heavier, a darker, rawer sound compared to Face to Face, and I was fond of the fact that they were so different. It seemed like this particular band caused the audience to lose their minds. From previously being an animated group of people clearly enjoying the songs by Face to Face, the crowd had now morphed into a frenzy. Individuals were attempting to crowd surf, only then to be dragged away by security. That didn’t stop anyone. In fact, I’m pretty certain it made more of them want to do it. I asked myself, is this punk?
The highlight of my evening was when the lead singer of The Bronx decided that hyping the crowd from the stage just wasn’t enough. He dived into the sea of enraged bodies and proceeded to perform the last three tracks from within the mosh pits. Despite being pushed, shoved and almost thrown across the floor, his voice never subsided, making this performance one of the best I’ve seen. With an unexpected turn of events, The Bronx concluded their set with a relaxed rendition of ‘Happy Birthday’ directed towards the drummer, then issued peace signs all round and a cheerful “Merry Christmas!”. Safe to say I was confused by the contrast, but nevertheless, very entertained by the whole thing.
By the time Flogging Molly were to begin, the venue was packed like a sardine tin of people from all walks of life. I noticed a couple of individuals attended alone, which sparked curiosity and made me wonder whether these were some of the die-hard fans of punk, or perhaps just Flogging Molly alone.
Flogging Molly were the most Irish Irish Punk band I could have ever even have thought of. Their set began with green, white and orange lights and a traditional Irish folk song. I had watched the stage hands set up beforehand and so was aware that their band included a fiddle, accordion and banjo. There was also Guinness placed strategically around the stage. Was I sure I wasn’t in Dublin?
I really loved Flogging Molly’s sound, I think it was my favourite of the night. Sounding as though a group of leprechauns were inherently angry and looking as though Tom Jones was now part of a 7-piece band, I understood why these guys were headlining. The crowd knew every word and the lead singer was a light-hearted old guy who told cute anecdotes about his previous times in London and put his middle fingers up whenever a professional photo was taken. Although he is the only member to originate from Ireland, Flogging Molly’s traditional folk inspired instrumentation implied that they were a group of people who had never left the romantic green fields. From incredible bands to the free shots of fireball and merchandise, the Fireball Tour was something I will never forget. It opened me up to a whole world of music I hardly knew much about. But spending the journey home making new playlists that included Face to Face, The Bronx and Flogging Molly, I think it’s fair to say that I’m a born-again punk music fan.