With steely determination glinting in my eye and a spring in my step, I left my hotel early. I was convinced that this was going to be the first time that I would go to an All Time Low show and not miss the opening act.
Getting to the O2 Arena ten minutes before Walk The Moon hit the stage, I quickly jumped in the queue for merch, planning on purchasing it and getting to my seat before they began. Then, bad things happened - the queue inched along, slowly at first but getting rapidly faster... And I finished buying my merch ten minutes after Walk The Moon left the stage. One day, I will see All Time Low's opening act. Today was not that day.
All Time Low were the penultimate band every night of this tour (which I don't think exactly equates to a co-headline tour, but that's a discussion for another time) and they were also the band I was most excited about seeing live again, so when they started I knew I was in for a good time. Kicking off with 'A Love Like War' was a surprise, because it seemed like a song that would fit better towards the end of a set, but by taking a risk and putting it in so early on it immediately grabbed the crowd. If you've been to an All Time Low show before, you'll know that the atmosphere is always palpable, with big singalongs and high energy consistent factors throughout. Playing the O2 Arena was an ordinary All Time Low show magnified tenfold, and the response from the crowd demonstrated just how successful this band have become.
With a co-headline tour, you never know what percentage of a crowd is going to participate for the band that they weren't attending solely to support, but with over half of the standing area jumping and moving for All Time Low's entire set, they definitely weren't neglected for being on early. Older favourites 'Lost In Stereo' and 'Damned If I Do Ya (Damned If I Don't)' were obviously going to be brilliantly received, but the reception for newer songs was frankly jaw-dropping. 'The Irony Of Choking On A Lifesaver' had fans screaming their lungs out, as did 'Somewhere In Neverland' and 'Backseat Serenade.' Even brand new single 'Something's Gotta Give', which has only been out for around about a month, had a reception that was utterly impressive, with most of the crowd singing along to every word. The most emotional moment of the night was still 'Therapy', made more touching by the entire front half of the crowd holding up handmade paper hearts, and it's a credit to All Time Low that what is probably the most memorable song of the set is also the one that slows it down, putting less emphasis on the stage presence.
Of course, this is All Time Low, so as well as music their set was filled with childlike banter reminiscent of Blink-182. Guitarist Jack Barakat announced quite early on in the night that "I think I've had sexual interactions with 30% of the crowd," the mood was quickly set as the crowd laughed along, and it was further cemented as he wrapped a bra around his head, jumping around the stage wearing it for the entirety of a song. Of course, with it being Valentine's Day, the sleazy jokes were out in force, with Jack asking "Are there any couples that will let me watch them make out with each other? Please. I need this", and with a crowd that was willing to play along it managed to come off as funny rather than awkward. Later on in the set, while getting fans on stage to join in singing 'Time Bomb', Jack announced that "If you're not wearing underwear you're automatically allowed to come on stage. That's why I'm here!" and it's great to say that that was definitely not the only reason. If you take the banter out of an All Time Low set, you definitely detract from the fun of the situation, but they can hold their only musically too. I just prefer to see four friends having fun than four guys being serious and not interacting with a crowd.
With a headline show at Wembley Arena next month - which everyone was reminded of, when Alex Gaskarth mistakenly shouted out "Hello Wembley!" instead of O2 - and their sixth album 'Future Hearts' coming the month after that, it will be very interesting to see where All Time Low go from here. Their last couple of albums have been rather hit and miss, comprised equally of pop-punk magic and boring filler tunes, but I'm hoping that will change with 'Future Hearts'. I really want to see All Time Low back on top, because they have been working their asses off for this, and it would be a shame to see them lose it. I'm seeing All Time Low live again twice this year, and I've already pre-cordered 'Future Hearts', so if you want to know how they fare over the next couple of months you should definitely keep an eye out on my blog!
A Love Like War
Lost In Stereo
Damned If I Do Ya (Damned If I Don't)
Forget About It
The Irony Of Choking On A Lifesaver
Somewhere In Neverland
Something's Gotta Give
The Reckless and the Brave
Dear Maria, Count Me In
Closing the show were You Me At Six, homecoming heroes hailing from Surrey, playing their second headlining tour in support of their fourth album, 'Cavalier Youth'. In this touring cycle I had seen the band three times already (including two sets at Reading festival, which I reviewed back in August), so I knew what to expect from their newer songs, meaning that I wasn't anticipating their set that much at all. Starting off with 'Room To Breathe', the fun in the room automatically lowered, because the one word I would use to describe You Me At Six is serious. Whereas All Time Low run around stage and make dick jokes, You Me At Six stay as still as possible and try to perform flawlessly.
I was grateful for the fact that the 'Cavalier Youth' songs were widespread throughout the set, because I really detest the new album. After 'Room To Breathe', there were only another four songs from the album scattered throughout, so it was great that, for once, You Me At Six seemed to be getting the hang of comprising a varied setlist from multiple albums (well, still declining to include any songs from 'Take Off Your Colours', which will always be a sore spot). Playing 'Contagious Chemistry' was the biggest surprise compared to their usual setlists and, if anything, it just proved exactly why You Me At Six should try to angle their album more towards their pop-punk roots than towards the indie-rock that they've been attempting to emulate. However, my disappointment resurfaced during 'No One Does It Better', which the band constantly decide to shorten. Any band that play the single version of a song live, rather than the album version, will always aggravate me. If you write a version of a song to go on an album, you should always put your eggs in that basket, rather than the basket of the shorter - and less emotionally affecting - version.
However, other than declaring the fact that they were going to be writing their new album soon, nothing that exciting or noteworthy happened during the set. Yes, the pyrotechnics looked amazing, with a variety of fireworks and waterfalls that were extremely impressive. Yes, the band were on point, sounding exactly like they do on their recordings, proving that they are a good live band. But to be a truly amazing live band, you need to have a stage presence that completely absorbs every member of the crowd for every second that they're watching you, and that's something that You Me At Six are sadly lacking. Since the first time I saw them, way back in 2010, they've come a long way: number one album, headlining Wembley Arena and now headlining the O2 Arena, but they really do need to think back to what made them stand out from the crowd in the first place, because at this rate they're going to become forgettable. This was the seventh time I've seen the band, but it took the number one spot for the least impressive show of theirs that I've witnessed. Jokingly, vocalist Josh Franceschi referred to You Me At Six as "mediocre rock-and-roll" and he definitely hit the nail on the head with that statement.
Room To Breathe
Stay With Me
No One Does It Better
Forgive and Forget
Bite My Tongue
Fresh Start Fever
Lived A Lie