It’s a muggy night in the centre of Manchester as the O2 Ritz begins to fill up, each body through the doors incrementally raises the temperature, and before the mics have been checked, the venue is already sweatbox.
Eastbourne’s ROAM  come charging out of the gates looking like the best pop-punk band at Eastbourne Comprehensive. These apparent youngsters have a charming, nervous energy, not helped by the sound being shocking for the first half a song before being fixed. Besides the over exuberant vocalist Alex Costello, the others seem a little lacking in confidence, though they manage to drag some response from the large crowd, and clearly have a small army of followers in the first couple of rows. ROAM push all the right buttons without ever being anything other than just fine. It’s hard to dislike these lads, and their charm gets them over the finish line.
The same can’t really be said for Waterpark  who manage the double whammy of being utterly forgettable and slightly annoying (XXXL ironic Christmas jumper in August, how we laughed). Waterparks are pretty sure that they’re Nirvana; they mimic the stage moves and even look a bit them too. The problem is that they play a generic set of straight pop-punk with very few memorable hooks or huge choruses, and stage banter is kept to an absolute minimum; “Who got our new record?” and “You English are really great at clapping” are about the extent of it. But, to be fair, the band are performing with one guitarist down, which can’t have helped.
Outside the heavens open, but the heat in the O2 Ritz remains unchanged as Good Charlotte  take to the stage to deafening cheers and more than a few ear piercing screams. Launching straight into ‘The Anthem’ brings the roof off the place, and Good Charlotte manage to maintain the energy and the noise levels throughout an excellently planned-out set. Old standards nestle snuggly by a few tracks from this year’s ‘Youth Authority’, the pick of which is ‘Life Changes’. Brothers Joel and Benji Madden are on fine form, showing neither signs of fatigue nor boredom as they kick off ‘Girls And Boys’ for what must be at least the thousandth time.
Playing a sporadic mix of the best of their whole career, Good Charlotte control the ebb and flow of the set masterfully, and set things up for the climax beautifully. By the time the excellent ‘The River’ is through they kick straight into ‘Dance Floor Anthem’, then ‘I Just Wanna Live’. By this point the ceiling is dripping with sweat, drenched fans are standing in the foyer between the outside doors and the main room doors to try and catch a draft, bottles and glasses of water are being distributed by the O2 Ritz staff, and we all begin to dread the inevitable 5 to 10 minute ego stroke that is the encore.
To their immeasurable credit, Good Charlotte acknowledge the daftness of this convention and simply thank the audience again for their support, and build up to the one most people came to hear, ‘Lifestyles Of The Rich And Famous’. Interspersed with crowd singalongs and an extended break down section, the O2 Ritz becomes a wall to wall party for 5 final minutes, before it all comes to a slightly abrupt end and a thousand people steam into the night.
Written by Mark Howes