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As the first date of their final ever UK tour, legendary American rockers Yellowcard took to the Bristol O2 Academy to provide a first class final set for their fans. With a completely packed out venue, they were received with everything they deserved after their career of almost 20 years and more – and came supported by two diverse yet perfect acts to warm up the adoring crowd beforehand.

Opening the night came energetic London group The Kenneths, who brought a strong sense of punk to the show with their fast-paced tunes. With tempo and vocals strongly reminiscing Green Day’s early days, it was refreshing to hear a promising young band. As a newly formed trio, they seemed to work together well – though often a bit too overenergetic at times, with the frontman trying to jump into the slightly unenthused crowd on multiple occasions. This would’ve worked a bit better if they weren’t first on, as any early, slowly-warming up crowd can be hard to win over.

Next up came Swedish newcomers Normandie, who for many in the crowd hadn’t been acquainted with. As their second ever UK tour (the first only being in July this year), this was a major step up from the small pubs and venues they’d visited before – and were greeted with an entirely full audience. Blasting straight into the opening track’ Fight’ from their debut release, their impressive co-ordinated light show and production seemed to impress. They did very well in connecting with the audience, as by this point mostly everyone in the room was there for Yellowcard – so this set was really about introducing themselves, and giving the crowd a taste of their sound and enthusiasm.  

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With the suitably warmed up crowd completely packed to the venue walls, the time for Yellowcard’s final show in Bristol arrived – and as soon as they took to the stage it was clear that they were only greeted with love. Playing for almost two hours, the 23-track long setlist spanned the highlights of their career as a band, and no disappointment seemed evident with the final choices. A lot of material from their final album was showcased as well, such as ‘Rest In Piece’, ‘What Appears’ and ‘A Place We Set Afire’ – and even for those who didn’t know these newer tracks, they worked very well and sounded great in the live setting. A continuous highlight of the set was the excellent sound of violinist Sean Mackin – no solos on his beloved instrument were lost or hidden under the multiple sounds, so the audience could definitely appreciate his playing above the rest. He also interacted with the extremely active crowd continuously, and they seemed to love it.

 This crowd really took the last opportunity to move and dance together through the entire set, and were even encouraged further by frontman Ryan Key when he compared them to the ‘better’ German crowds, and thus a competition sparked – so from there on no song was short of movement or effort from the Bristol audience. With plenty of pits, jumping and crowdsurfing – it was very eye-opening to see how loved they are.

The most poignant and impressive part of the set came from the acoustic-based ‘Gifts and Curses’, which showed how clever Yellowcard are at instrumental work. It was definitely a thought that came to mind throughout the set, especially with so much violin in songs – but this track in particular built really well into the co-operation between Key and Mackin’s violin and vocals.

It was definitely clear that the group were enjoying every single moment onstage, and oddly it actually felt like this decision to call it a day is the right thing for them (as final shows are so very often tinged with sadness and regret, so it was refreshing to have a respectful atmosphere). No bad feelings could be seen between them whilst playing, all interacting with friendliness whilst maintaining the best performance they could offer to the crowd. After almost 20 years and 10 studio albums as a band, it’s definitely clear that they deserve this rest – and their material and memories will live on for many more years to come.

Yellowcard - O2 Academy, Bristol (11th Dec 2016)

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