Date: March 16th, 2009
Venue: The Sugarmill, Stoke-on-Trent
Support: Sold Out Story, Rumour Has It, Paige
Website: None available
Co-headlining tours aren’t all that common, with two bands of similar public status trade the headline spot on tour. There’s always that risk though that the headliner of one night is outshined by the other band that has stepped down one spot. At the Stoke date, it’s Me Vs. Hero who need to come out on top from the other acts.
Locals Sold Out Story (***) surely aren’t a tough act to follow. The thing is, Sold Out Story aren’t bad at all in their set performance; their songs have clearly been practiced over and over, to the point where they’re about as tight as Mr. Burns from The Simpsons cartoons. Their main problem lies with confidence, most notably with lead singer Mat. Most of the members just seem to like staying in one certain spot on the stage, as if their feet are glued, and pulling out the same stage performances over and over again, which leaves things like the lead guitarist’s constant bum wiggle incredibly tedious and boring by the end of the night.
Second support act Rumour Has It (****) however succeed in the flaws that the previous act made clear and obvious. Their pop-punk vibe and charismatic nature easily gives the impression that this band aren’t too far from reaching a position where they could go on a small headlining tour in the nearby future. Songs like ‘Step Up’ give plenty of moments for crowd participation and sing-a-longs, though the amount of fans in the room seem to show this bandâ€™s current impact to date on the Stoke audience.
With the small leagues aside, the big players are now up to show them all how it’s done. Paige (***) however don’t seem that much more entertaining than Rumour Has It, and arguably could’ve actually been surpassed by them. Their more melodic and serious material seems to be drenched in too much drama and not enough fun for the rest of the night’s line-up. This doesn’t mean they didn’t get the crowd worked up though, with most people feeding off their energy and at times fighting each other off to get just a few seconds up onstage with the boys. More touching and heart-felt songs in the set go down a treat, and give a nice moment of recollection and calm for the night â€“ definitely needed to sustain energy for the band to follow up.
Only moments after getting onstage, Me Vs. Hero (****) are barraged in cheers and wails from the crowd â€“ all before playing a single note or saying a single word. Their hardcore-esque touch on their pop-punk style is one of both aggression and fun, kind of like how a kid would feel finally beating up a childhood bully (not condoning violence at all), and sends the audience in a huge flurry of crowd-surfing bodies, flinging arms and legs, and to put it more simply: utter carnage. Songs like ‘Star Raiders And Space Invaders’ and ‘Bring The Keys To The Massey’ are pulled off like it’s all on the back of their hands, even managing to make them sound better than they do recorded on the CD. Their cover of New Found Glory‘s ‘Understatement’ is delivered in their own brand and style, making it almost sound like a song of their own â€“ exactly what you need for a good cover. What’s most astonishing about the band’s set tonight is that Me Vs. Hero aren’t a big band at all. They’re not plastered on poster’s in people’s bedrooms, they’re not in every other issue of Kerrang! or Rock Sound magazine, and they’re not constantly in the charts on the radio. Yet still, they’re being treated like royalty, and much more successful and respected than a fair few bands who have all of the above. With a set like this one, it shows what could probably be the reason for their success.
Me Vs. Hero are the ones of top for those in Stoke. Paige may well have just had an ‘off night’ here, but they’re going to need to pick up the pace for their headlining dates, or they’re undoubtedly going to be left in the dust.
Written by Zach Redrup