Gig review: Bowling For Soup at O2 Academy Leeds

It's hard to believe that Jaret Reddick and the guys from Bowling For Soup are still turning heartache into hilarity 25 years down the line (to borrow from the singer's Twitter biography and solo tour tag).

Bowling For Soup

In fact, they are on their second tour of the year in the UK (three if you count Reddick’s solo tour) which he explained before the show: “We celebrate our 25th year next June, and basically what happened was we had a tour planned early next year, and we ended up making a deal with Leeds and Reading Festivals next year, so that kinda shot that tour until later on in the year, and we are heading back in to the studio and getting ready to celebrate our 25th birthday next summer with a US tour, Reading and Leeds after that, and then hopefully announce something really big for the UK after that.”

First off the mark though are Not Ur Girlfrenz, with a youthful feel and an energetic set paving the way for ever popular and super bouncy Patent Pending with explosive guitars and punchy singalong anthems that still feel as fresh as the day they were written.

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Bowling For Soup open their set with Corner Store On Christmas, which is fitting being as they are on the last night of the ‘Almost Christmas Tour’, and immediately follow it up with fan favourite Almost, having the O2 Academy explode in to a frenzy of singing along, cheers, and complete adoration from fans both old and new.

Chris Burney (guitars) can still toss his plectrums over his shoulders and carry on playing (most of the time) those driving guitar lines we have all come to love, while Gary Wiseman (drums) seemingly doesn’t even break a sweat whilst knocking seven shades out of his kit.

Personally, I sorely missed Erik Chandler not being able to make this tour, but Rob Felicetti filling in for him was just as good as the real thing.

With the set jam packed full of hits and pure belters, the electrical stage presence of the four grown men still making fart jokes is uncontainable.

Even the crowd surfers aren’t letting up in between songs and keeping the security at the front busy while the rest of us are being caught up in the excitement of more songs, photo opportunities, and a Freddie Mercury impersonator taking us through We Will Rock You, and getting the audience even more excited with Mercury’s famous crowd participation act from Wembley Arena back in the 80s.

The Witchita Falls quartet play Frosty The Snowman to get the place even more festive, as if the massive Christmas tree didn’t do that enough already, and Reddick asks that question: Why do people still think Stacey’s Mom (by Fountains Of Wayne) is a Bowling For Song original track? Beats me, if I’m being honest, but they do play it so well that it’s no wonder folks think they own that particular song.

Instead of going off stage to then come back to play an encore, Reddick and Burney both agree that walking up the five flights of stairs back stage to get to the dressing room and then come back down to the stage is way too much hard work, and even more tiring (I can vouch for them; the amount of stairs backstage in the O2 Academy is ridiculous), and instead choose to just play the encore there and then.

Girl All The Bad Guys Want and 1985 sound as all awesome pop punk anthems should, and purely solidify and support my opinion that these guys are and will remain forever youthful and the absolute best at what they do.