What better way to brush away the gloomy January blues than a night of pop punk goodness at Birmingham's O2 Academy, Headlined by Canadian rockers Seaway. Two years on since their last UK visit supporting punk titans Neck Deep, Seaway return hungry to show off their latest album Colour Blind and armed with three almighty supports, Britain's very own up and coming talents: WSTR, The Gospel Youth and Coast To Coast
Starting the night right with a cold beverage in one hand and the other ready for some fist pumping action, local Birmingham band Coast To Coast took to the stage first. Only set to play the Birmingham date of the tour as arranged by the O2 Academy and not originally on the tour poster, many were surprised to witness an extra band added to the nights lineup; however they didn't let this dampen their performance in the slightest. Furnished with only a minimal number of songs, Coast To Coast had an opportunity to showcase the majority of their music library, counting new song ‘Post Graduation’ which took the crowd by storm. Luring in many friends and family to watch their set, both band and crowd connected greatly feeding off one another's energy, overwhelming much of the venue with unexpected chaos - a set most enthralling.
Coast To Coast - Photo Credit: Nathan Heffernan
Next to face the spotlight were The Gospel Youth - a band I was unfamiliar with before this point. Drilling their clean-cut vocals and pop rock jingles down our ears, The Gospel Youth showed us their true colours, winning over the audience with their down to earth charm. Belting out a good selection of their most loved numbers from the likes of: ‘Lighting Fires’ and ‘The Hospital Blues You Gave to Me’ to name a few, they certainly proved themselves to the quickly growing Brummy crowd now soaked in heartfelt emotion, all props to their meaningful jams which definitely didn't lack sentimentality and meaning. Crafting a calmer audience compared to the other acts of the night due to their more radio ready sound, TGY's set was simply one to to just take in and enjoy, creating some very atmospherical scenes to say the least.
The Gospel Youth - Photo Credit: Mac Praed
A band which undeniably turned the whole place on its head was the one and only WSTR who graced the stage next. Making their mark in the alternative music scene in the last few weeks with the release of debut album Red, Green or Inbetween, the Liverpudlian lads were equipped with plenty of new material to throw at us. ‘Bringing to life Nail in the Casket (Thanks for Nothing)’ and ‘Punchline’, two of the most loved and well received tracks from the new album - the whole crowd went nuts for their new music, chanting every single last lyric.
Edging towards the end of the Seaway tour unfortunately saw WSTR's lead, Sammy Clifford run into some throat problems causing vocal difficulties. At moments in the set when times got tough Sammy was forced to tag in some of his pals to sing a song or two - and who better to tackle ‘Footprints than’ Trash Boat's very own Tobi Duncan. Swooped by an endearing cheer, Tobi stormed the stage and sent a shattering whirlwind of energy throughout the O2 Academy, a truly special and unexpected guest appearance to say the least, one we couldn't complain about. When it was finally time to play their famous cover of Limp Bizkit's ‘Break Stuff’, the rest of Trash Boat decided to accompany WSTR on the already overcrowded stage to bring Birmingham the ultimate party.
Not forgetting about their old but gold classic from the riff hungry ‘Fair Weather’, crowds favourite Southdrive and Graveyard shift for all of their day one fans out there – WSTR really did play a monster of a set, which came with good vibes and one hell of a rowdy atmosphere. Undoubtedly the nights stand out support act.
WSTR - Photo Credit: photodannyb
Needing no introduction are Canada's punk prodigies Seaway, who set out to finish the night in style. Kicking things off with ‘Slam’, an arena full of thirsty fans chanting "Everything is Cool Man" engulfed the atmosphere, sending the O2 Academy into pure lock-down. Followed by ‘Best Mistake’ and ‘Your Best Friend’, the band belt out some of their most loved and upfront bangers, complete with passion filled sing alongs. "This next one is one of our favourites to play live" vocalist Ryan Locke announces after his warm welcoming speech, blasting confidently into the sets next track ‘Freak’. Witnessing a band who truly enjoy themselves on stage and who are thankful to be able to do the things they do is brilliant to watch, and is something Seaway expressed from the beginning right to the very end of their show, airing their true, likeable personas.
After a spree of songs from the boys latest full length album Colour Blind, they turned back time ready to reminisce some of their older, more raw material from their early days as a band. Diving straight in with crowd pleasers ‘Shy Guys’ and ‘Keep Your Stick’ on the Ice was a time dedicated to their old-school followers and the crowds ravenous mosh-pitters, brainwashed by the intoxicating momentum of constant riffing guitars, sending heads banging across the arena. After a number of hard-hitting melodies Seaway soon took it down a notch, giving the crowd a well-deserved breather from the never-ending havoc - leading them right into their slowly chugging song, ‘Alberta’. Building a genuine connection with the crowd through meaningful lyrics and heart plucked chords, Seaway created an authentic and warming atmosphere which gradually flickered into another chill out tune, ‘Stubborn Love’ allowing the sold out Birmingham arena time to really appreciate the band's talents.
What was apparently their last song of the night, Seaway said their goodbyes as the powered their way into final song ‘Airhead’, undoubtedly a crowds favourite. Backed by an overpowering echo of the words "Sometimes I can be a fu*king airhead" the Brummy venue prepared for another song of madness to finish the night in a true punk manor. But let's be honest, no band of today just leaves without an encore of one or more of their most popular tracks do they? Exactly! Faced with a everlasting cry for "One more song" Seaway did just that and returned with fire in their vanes to deliver the longly awaited ‘Sabrina the Teenage Bitch’. A remarkable and intense ending to a tremendously epic night, that will certainly propel Seaway and their three supports to higher grounds in the not so distant future.
Seaway - Photo Credit: Danny Barrett
Review by Josh Bates