After coming back from their hiatus in 2013, Fall Out Boy unleashed their fifth studio album Save Rock and Roll on the UK in the form of an intimate show at London’s Camden Underworld (500 capacity). Two years on and with the release of their next album American Beauty/American Psycho fast approaching, they went with the same approach, this time opting for Islington Assembly Hall (800 capacity). With tickets selling out in less than 20 seconds (and in some cases being re-sold in excess of £180) it was clear this concert meant a lot to Fall Out Boy fans who travelled from all over the world to attend tonight.
With no support band on the bill, and an hour and a half between doors and Fall Out Boy’s scheduled time, there was a lot of time for the atmosphere to incubate. And that it did. An almost tangible excitement floated throughout the venue before the band burst on stage, opening with Save Rock and Roll’s opening track, The Phoenix. Having seen this band before, I was expecting their arrival to be met with a wall of deafening screams. However old fans and new fans alike gave a reaction that demonstrated considerable respect more than anything. This was a crowd that was genuinely appreciative of what the band were doing, and simply happy to see them treating the UK as their second home in an intimate setting.
Wasting no time, new track Irresistible was given it’s live debut next. This was met with cheers and many members of the crowd singing along despite the fact it’s only been available for a number of days. It wasn’t just the fans enjoying the new material, having obviously got the desired reaction, bassist Pete Wentz spent the entirety of the song with a contagious grin on his face. The Chicago 4-piece then began to rattle through their huge repertoire of classics the only way they know how. With the performance, precision and conviction of the arena band the world knows them as.
Slowly starting to tick off all their albums with tracks such as A Little Less Sixteen Candles…, This Ain’t a Scene, It’s an Arms Race and Sugar, We’re Goin Down, it felt like the concert could have ended after six songs and the audience would have been satisfied. It was at this point, however, that the absence of guitarist Joe Trohman (who understandably took the decision to stay in the US following a bereavement) started to show in minute places. Although some of the outstanding lead guitar lines were missing, it can’t be argued that Trohman’s guitar tech, Josh Newton, put on a convincing performance. The problem was simply that nobody can quite fill Trohman’s shoes. Almost exactly halfway through the set fans were treated to the second and last live debut of the night in the form of The Kids Aren’t Alright. Being one of Fall Out Boy’s more slow songs, they wouldn’t have been able to predict how it would go down live. However it was received well, with the crowd singing the catchy lead line throughout, expect to see this song become a regular in their live set. Young Volcanoes then filled the gap before two of the best-received songs of the night. The classic Dance Dance whipped the crowd into a frenzy, with everyone singing along before the title track from new album American Beauty/American Psycho gave the band possibly their best reaction of the night. Fall Out Boy’s sound has become slightly more pop since their hiatus, certainly a sound more radio-friendly than their earlier records. However, possibly much to the delight of fans that aren’t too fond of their newer sound, all of their new songs translate incredibly into a live setting. With the absence of some bold effects on the drums and some synth parts, American Beauty/American Psycho sounded twice as huge live as it does on the record.
Three songs later the band leave the stage as this incredible show draws to an end. The biggest single from the new album, Centuries, is the first to kick off the three-song encore. Which again, translates so perfectly live it’s incredible to see how far this band have come since their hiatus in 2010. Their enthusiasm and belief in their new music is simply contagious. Thnks Fr Th Mmrs and Saturday close the set, ending a special and rare night for Fall Out Boy fans the way they always have done over the years. Given the high demand and small scale of this concert, it would have been easy for the band to sit back and play an average show. But there’s a reason they’ve got a huge host of arena tour dates (including a UK arena tour in October) coming up, it’s clear from tonight that Fall Out Boy don’t do average.