Tuesday, 23 August 2016

Good Charlotte - O2 Forum, London, 22/08/16

When Waterparks walked out on stage, I was surprised to see three people.
Of course frontman Awsten Knight and drummer Otto Wood were going to be in attendance, but after Geoff Wigington - backing vocalist, guitarist, band sweetheart - broke his hand on Warped tour, I'd expected to be watching a two-man band for the evening.
Imagine my surprise when the lights go up and there's none other than My Chemical Romance's Mikey Way on bass. Mikey recorded with the band on their EP, 'Cluster', but bringing him along for their UK live shows (which will presumably include their debut appearances at Reading and Leeds festivals this weekend) was a shock. A lot of people didn't notice the stranger on stage straight away - because a lot of the crowd weren't already familiar with Waterparks they probably didn't know what the members looked like - but when 'Crave' finished and Awsten joked "quick shout out to our bud here, Mikey... You may know him from a band called Korn!" the reaction was explosive. Wolf whistles and cheers erupted from the previously apathetic crowd, making Mikey look a little bit embarrassed and causing Awsten to crack up laughing.
Compared to the last time I saw Waterparks there were a heck of a lot more people, but the participation wasn't as enthusiastic as I'd expected. They had people crowdsurfing at Slam Dunk and shouting along to every word at their headline show, but at this show they had a rather lukewarm response (the only thing exactly the same being Awsten's love for Brendon Urie: "you're gay for Brendon Urie? Who isn't at this point!"). Awsten tried his hardest to get the crowd involved, inciting clapalongs and encouraging everyone to jump during 'Pink' (starting the song by calling out a guy in a black shirt in the crowd directly in front of him who refused to jump, begging "you can do this! If you don't do this I'm gonna cry myself to sleep tonight, tomorrow night, every night for the rest of this tour", enthusiastically yelling "oh shit, he did it!" when he finally joined in), but it seemed as though a lot of people were unwilling to give the support act a try. Considering the fact that Good Charlotte discovered Waterparks and made them who they were today - Awsten going so far as to call them "our dads" - you'd think that the crowd would have been more excited to see such a promising upcoming band.
I hadn't realised quite how vital Geoff is to Waterparks live show until experiencing one without him. Hearing Awsten performing his verse in 'Crave' rather than having the two contrasting vocals meant it was a lot less effective, and 'Silver' - which normally has Geoff screaming his backing vocal to a climactic end - fell flat. The reason this band is so exciting is because of the chemistry and connection between all three of the members, and it makes me even more disappointed in recent magazine articles that have focused solely on Awsten and his rising star: he's not the only member of the band, and Waterparks wouldn't be the same without the other two.
Waterparks still aren't used to seeing crowds of this size, despite their recent summer on Warped Tour. It must be a vastly different experience, coming to the UK and having people turn up to shows and know all of your lyrics, but when their full-length album releases towards the end of the year I'm hoping it'll get them even more adored on this side of the pond.
With the announcement of their upcoming American tour with Sleeping With Sirens, Tonight Alive and State Champs, they're going to get used to this many faces staring back at them every night - hopefully that'll add to Awsten's confidence, as he's still a little awkward with his onstage banter ("I ate y'alls fish, I ate y'alls chips... Not at the same time, I'm not a psychopath") but in a very endearing way. Awsten shared at the end of the set that they're going to be coming back to our shores fairly soon - they just can't share when yet. I am definitely going to be there.

Mad All The Time
No Capes
I'm A Natural Blue

Honestly, I only bought my tickets to this show to see Waterparks. Good Charlotte were just an added bonus!
Good Charlotte are a band that I've never fallen in love with, but I've always appreciated. Having grown up watching Kerrang! I knew a lot of their songs through passive consumption, but I don't actively listened to them (okay, that's a lie: I love 'Cardiology', the one album they played no material from in this set...). I hadn't expected the visceral response that continued through every second of their hour and a half stage time.
Bands of this age have songs that everyone knows. If you think you don't know a single Good Charlotte song, go and listen to 'The Anthem', 'Girls and Boys', 'Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous'... You'll know them, even if you didn't know who they were by. But most of the people in this room knew all the words to every single song. It's impressive when you consider that the band's debut album is 16 this year: these songs age so well that you honestly wouldn't guess most of them were released over a decade ago.
Only playing four songs from new album 'Youth Authority' was a brave move, because despite this being a warm-up show for Reading and Leeds it's also the release tour. I didn't listen to the new material before the show (with the exception of 'Makeshift Love', which I heard back when I saw them supporting All Time Low) but I found myself enjoying the new material more than most of the rest of the set. I hoped they would put more in: while it's good to hear the classic songs, it's also nice for new songs to get their time to shine, but with six albums worth of material to represent it's difficult to appease everyone.
Despite the fact that I wasn't completely familiar with a large percentage of the material, I found myself absorbed.  It takes a special band to hold my attention for 19 songs, but their time flew past and I found myself shocked when Joel and Benji started joking that every song they played was their last song. They didn't have a stereotypical encore: it was obvious everyone wanted more, so it saved time to squeeze more songs in. They're a no fuss band.
They do, however, know how to appreciate their fans. You don't often find humble rock stars who have been in bands for over 20 years, but both Maddens took the time to thank the crowd during the set. Dedicating 'Riot Girl' to all of the women in the crowd, they shared "we wanna take care of you and make sure you're having a good time", sharing before 'Life Changes' that this show was their "favourite moment of the year" and thanking everyone effusively for attending by saying "I can't help but think how lucky I am and how much you mean to all of us".
The most tender moment was definitely the introduction to 'Hold On', in which they thanked everyone, "whether you got into us last year or have been here for twenty years, we really appreciate you being here", and said to "anyone out there tonight going through something tough, a rough spot" that "most of the people in this room want to see you live to see another day". Show me a band that care for their fans more honestly and openly than Good Charlotte do, and I'll be shocked.
Claiming that London was the band's favourite place to play because "you guys just destroy every other crowd in the world" before reminiscing on the fact that it was "five or six... Seven years" since they'd last played a London headline show. They announced at the end of the show that they will be returning to London next year and will be playing an even longer set. Of course, if that fits in with my currently booked shows I'll be there. Fingers crossed the guys will choose to play some 'Cardiology' material next time - it's such a neglected album!
I'm not sure if I'll be able to see Good Charlotte headlining the Lock Up Stage at Reading, as there are going to be brutal stage clashes when the times are announced tomorrow: I'm anticipating that they'll overlap with both The 1975 and Biffy Clyro, and those are both sets that I'm not going to be happy to miss. 

The Anthem
The Story of My Old Man
My Bloody Valentine
Girls and Boys
Riot Girl
Life Changes
The Chronicles of Life and Death
The Motivation Proclamation
Hold On
The Outfield
Makeshift Love
Life Can't Get Much Better
Little Things
Young and Hopeless
The River
Dance Floor Anthem
I Just Wanna Live
Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous

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