As these are the enigmatic band’s first European dates since 2015, they are hotly anticipated indeed. If any further incentive to attend was needed, the tour features impressive support acts; in the form of All Get Out, and Citizen.
Indie-emo mob All Get Out get the show underway in blistering style. With a sound resembling the now-disgraced Brand New, it’s clear that they have made more than a few new friends this evening. ‘Whatever’ in particular, draws a pit-wide singalong, setting wailing vocals against a maudlin lead guitar, and a crunchy rhythm section. It goes a long way to ensuring that those who arrive early are suitably rewarded for turning out.
Up next are Citizen, a band who have shared the stage with The Story So Far many times over the years. As such, it’s no surprise that there is a crossover in fandom, and there is a large turnout for Citizen’s set. The grunge-tinted power-chords of set opener ‘Work the Room’ get the crowd bouncing, and one or two crowd surfers flying over the barrier.
Listening to Citizen’s back-catalogue, you’d be forgiven for thinking that the band are a gloomy bunch. Their downbeat lyrics often focussing on breakups and failed relationships, among other things. However, between songs, frontman Mat Kerekes shares jokes with the crowd, and drops the name of the headliners at every available opportunity. It’s an odd, but welcome juxtaposition.
Live, Citizen are very tight indeed, with the experimental ‘in the Middle of it all’ sounding as good, if not better, live as it does on the record. They pair technical skill with good old fashioned rocking out, with old-favourite ‘Numb Yourself’ sounding loud, bruising and sinister. Citizen are clearly a band broadening in scope, and are in the ascendancy.
With such raucous support, the headliners have a lot to live up to. Hitting the stage and jumping straight into ‘Nerve’ from 2015’s self-titled record, the Story So Far get things going in loud and energetic style. Frontman Parker Canon is clearly channeling his inner Liam Gallagher. Swaggering onstage in a green parker, he’s all attitude; drawling his greeting into the microphone, before delivering the opening number, in his trademark, half-shouted/half-sang style.
After the bombastic opener, the band keep things ticking over by running through the equally energetic ‘Proper Dose’ from the album of the same name, and ‘Things I can Change’; the opener from 2013’s ‘What You Don’t see’. Opening the set with three tracks from three very distinct eras is a smart move, and it ensures that fans old and new are shouting back every word.
There is little reprieve from the tidal wave of pop-punk, as the band romp through old favourites ‘All Wrong’ and ‘The Glass’. Last year’s single- ‘Out Of It’ is just as loud and fun. Equally, the crowd show no signs of tiring as they continue to shout, mosh and crowd-surf to every song.
Surely there can’t be such a thing as too much pop-punk; but the band clearly want to expand beyond the constraints of the genre. Debuting ‘Let It Go’ from ‘Proper Dose’, the Story So Far show a different side; an almost dream-pop sound, which would not sound out of place on an album from Run For Cover Records. This is very reminiscent of future tour mates, Turnover, in particular. It’s a different, and very welcome string to be added to The Story So Far’s bow.
However, you’re never too far away from an outright anthem with The Story So Far, and the band duly deliver with ‘Keep This Up’, ‘Heavy Gloom’ and ‘Roam’. The latter in particular gets a very strong reaction from the crowd.
Slowing things down slightly, the band take an acoustic interlude, featuring ‘Upside Down’ and ‘Take Me As You Please’-both from ‘Proper Dose’. Lighters and mobile phones aloft, the crowd join in for a singalong, and love-in. It’s a powerful moment, which only goes to show the band’s newfound maturity.
The Story So Far indulge in two more mosh-friendly favourites in ‘Empty Space’ and ‘Quicksand’, before closing the set with the haunting ‘Clairvoyant’.
One thing that strikes you during this set, is how much the band have matured as entertainers. Three years ago, tracks from the self-titled record and ‘What You Don’t See’ were seemingly sang in any old order, before inevitably closing with ‘High Regard’. At that time, there didn’t seem to be much thought put into how the set would flow.
Now, tracks from Proper Dose are cleverly intertwined with the aforementioned albums-especially ‘What You Don’t See’-to create a set that starts with energy, bounces along, breathes at the acoustic interlude, and boldly finishes with ‘Clairvoyant’. It’s a very brave move to end with a track that didn’t even make it onto a full album, but it is highly effective nonetheless.
What is also striking, is the difference in Parker Canon. Three years ago, the frontman’s lyrics were full of vitriol, and rage at an unnamed former lover. His stage presence also betrayed a certain level of misanthropy; barely engaging with the audience or even cracking a smile. Tonight, he is almost charisma personified; grinning throughout the set, joking about his obvious Liam Gallagher impersonation, and repeatedly thanking the crowd for turning out. This is clearly a man that is now comfortable in himself, and this is reflected both on ‘Proper Dose’, and in the band’s live show.
It is often said that truly great art can only come from a place of emotional turmoil. Tonight; The Story So Far (and Citizen and All Get Out), have gone a long way to disproving this theory. Long may it continue!