Date: February 23rd 2019
Venue: Troxy, London
Support: Pronoun / Movements / The Wonder Years
Two of pop-punk’s finest, The Wonder Years and Mayday Parade, have teamed up for a co-headline tour, and if that doesn’t promise an emotional time then what does? Oddly enough, it doesn’t seem to have attracted a particularly large audience, and the crowd in the Troxy is noticeably sparse. However, what they lack in numbers, they seem eager to make up for in enthusiasm.
Storming onto the stage, The Wonder Years  put on a masterclass on how to work an audience. Opening with ‘Sister Cities’, the titular track from their latest record, the Philadelphia five-piece whip the crowd up into a frenzy. Pile driving through more than a dozen tracks across their last few albums, frontman Dan Campbell is as emotive as ever, with the audience hanging on every word that is preached upon them.
‘Raining In Kyoto’ proves to be an intensely haunting homage to Campbell‘s late grandfather, with him providing crashing drums alongside drummer Mike Kennedy while a barrage of sound fills the venue. In contrast, as the room is lit up with florescent pink lights and the flickering flames of the audiences lighters, we’re instructed to hold tightly the person that’s here with us as the band break into melodic cut, ‘Flowers Where Your Face Should Be’. The song shows the band at their most vulnerable and stripped back, with Campbell‘s voice taking centre stage while the light and almost twinkly sounding instrumentals taking a back seat.
Tonight feels like a relief for the band after what’s been a hard tour by all accounts, as Campbell preaches to the crowd that they’re broken, bruised, and destroyed, but they will always leave everything on stage. But while songs such as ‘I Don’t Like Who I Was Back Then’ or ‘Passing Through A Screen Door’ provide some of the biggest moments of the night, they both suffer from being played too quickly. If it weren’t for Campbell‘s ability to provide such emotion in his vocals, most of what made the songs so special in the first place would’ve been dissipated in speed, before closing on ‘Came Out Swinging’ to provide us with a poignant ending to a triumphant set.
Despite this being officially billed as a co-headline tour, Mayday Parade  are arguably the bigger of the two bands, and it’s they who take the closing slot of the night. They emerge to the bouncy tones of ‘Never Sure’ from their most recent album, ‘Sunnyland’, which serves as a reasonable warm-up. Yet, tonight’s crowd is a nostalgic one, evidenced by the considerably more enthusiastic response that ‘Jersey’ from their debut ‘A Lesson In Romantics’ brings. That key change remains as impassioned as it was in 2007.
After speeding through a small variety of tracks from across their career, vocalist Derek Sanders brandishes an acoustic guitar, and proceeds to lead the crowd through a medley of MySpace era classics. You don’t need to be a Mayday Parade fan to join in with the likes of ‘I’m Not Okay (I Promise)’, ‘My Friends Over You’, or ‘Cute Without The ‘E’ (Cut From The Team)’, and the deafening sing-alongs that ensue prove that Sanders has won over any naysayers who may have only been here for The Wonder Years.
Later in the set, another cover appears in the form of Gotye‘s one-hit wonder, ‘Somebody That I Used To Know’, a track that the band put their own unique spin on back in 2012 for the ‘Punk Goes Pop, Vol. 5’ compilation.
A surprise appearance of heart-rending ballad ‘Miserable At Best’ is certainly a set highlight, and ensures there’s not a dry eye in the house, but what Mayday Parade undeniably do best is huge infectious choruses. They showcase this ability perfectly on old school anthems like ‘Jamie All Over’ and set closer ‘I’d Hate To Be You When People Find Out What This Song Is About’, which are both conducive to the kind of arms-in-the-air scream-your-lungs-out catharsis that make their genre as a whole so charming.
Judging by the size of the crowd, perhaps this brand of emotionally drenched and admittedly sugar sweet pop-punk is on its way out, but if the devotion of its die-hard audience alone can keep it alive, it may never die.