Throughout February Four Year Strong set out on a 10 year anniversary tour to celebrate the release of their Rise Or Die Trying' album which they would perform in full across the UK - bringing Chunk! No, Captain Chunk!, Boston Manor and Homebound along for the ride.
Being the first band to play on a bill with numerous acts is always a tough card to pull, but English bred Homebound took this in their stride to show many unfamiliar faces exactly what they were made of. Playing to a crowd where only a small handful of fans stood, they came out swinging with a a whole heap of energy that complimented their young image and raw persona. Playing tracks from their latest EP The Mould You Build Yourself Around like 'Headspace' and 'Sonder' really captivated the crowds attention from start to finish, along with some of their earlier material such as 'Worthwhile' which certainly saw a spirt of energy Homebound were longly awaiting.
Homebound - Photo Credit: Mac-Praed Media
Next to face the Birmingham masses of the sold out O2 Academy were rising underground phenomenons Boston Manor. A few months on after the release of their debut album Be Nothing. Boston Manor hit the stage with plenty of new material tucked firmly in their pockets set for their rowdy fanbase to chant along too. Making the stage their own, the Blackpool rockers kicked things off the with the loud 'Burn You Up' really showing their presence and a level of confidence quite extraordinary for a new band. With lead single 'Lakia' and also 'Lead Feet' making appearances in their punk infused set; the young and thriving five-piece really gave a special performance here, creating one impassioned atmosphere that showed the sheer power of new punk rock.
After some time off from UK shows, melodic hardcore and pop punk hybrid, Chunk! No, Captain Chunk! graced the stage next with pure excitement circulating their presence. With fire in their eyes, Chunk! seems genuinely happy to be back playing shows, sending waves of energy through the bones of a crowd who were no strangers to the bands success. Shredding through hits like 'The Other Line', 'Playing Dead' and 'In Friends We Trust' really brought the place alight and saw the crowd loose their minds to blast from the last tracks. The real crown of their set was their famous cover of 'All Star' by Smash Mouth which ignited a firing hurricane on stage as the French rockers riffed furiously like their lives depended on it. Leaving every head banging accompanied by a glorious echo of the lyrics "HEY NOW YOU'RE AN ALL STAR" lurking in the mouths of every person present, Birmingham felt well and truly alive - leaving the room now warmly prepped for the nights headliners with smiles all round.
Chunk! No Captain Chunk! (London show) Photo Credit: gavfrontrow
After three gripping support acts, it was now time for Four Year Strong to take Birmingham back in time with a start to finish play through of the album which swooped them into stardom, Rise Or Die Trying. After a short but sweet welcome to the show, the bearded riff machines dived head first into their intense back to back set of endlessly fun tracks resurrected from the days when they were first forged in 2008. Playing in front of a thirsty sold out arena, the four piece blitzed through their set playing each song flawlessly just like on the record itself, leaving no room for disappointment. They kept the speeches to a minimum throughout which was no shock, as cramming an albums worth of songs into just one set isn't the easiest task, but the room stuffed full of die hard fans saluted their efforts with raucous liveliness that lasted all night. A show certainly dedicated to their loyal day one fans, (including one guy dressed as the famous creature riding wizard from the albums art work who needless to say wasn't short of attention himself) the connection between band and crowd was electrifying, full of sing alongs, room sized circle pits and fist pumping goodness.
Its safe to say that Four Year Strong left not a single face in the crowd unsatisfied as they blistered through the album which provided them with the platform they sit honourably on today. Hearing Rise Or Die Trying executed immaculately on stage from the first track to the very last note was an unforgettable experience, one the Massachusetts punks should take glory in doing to such a nifty job of. Nearing the end of the album, Four Year Strong didn't strop giving as they delved deeper into their hefty music library to give us three of their most crowd pleasing anthems: 'Go Down In History', 'It Must Really Suck To Be Four Year Strong Right Now' and 'Wasting Time (Eternal Summer)'. Really cranking up the gears to go out in style, the four piece came out swinging with fire in their blood and passion in their veins for three last songs of total madness. Gang chants rushed out across the arena no doubt to be heard outside, alongside a drowning sea of moshers engulfing most of the spellbound room, all captivated by the magicians on stage work no their magic. A night of true colour and one that will go down in the history or live shows which no one will forget.
Review by Joshua Bates