Bowling For Soup at O2 Academy Oxford - 22nd October 2011

An early start on the Cowley Road in Oxford to see Orange, Suburban Legend and Bowling For Soup.

I knew it was going to be a good gig, when the woman from the O2 slapped an "18?" wristband on me "you'll need this to go out for fag or buy alcohol" she said - "you are over 18 aren't you?" - "Just about" I said as I stood next to my (nearly) 13 year old son and 16 year old daughter. Must be my boyish good looks (a bearded, 46 year old, fat, grey boy obviously).

Met up with my old buddy Mike Hunt (real name - no - really), bought him a pint (thanks to my wristband) and settled down to watch the show... I haven't seen the Academy this full in ages.. it was rammed.

First up - Orange. They suffered with a bad sound mix - I think if I had been able to hear them clearly then they might have been pretty good. Excellent front-man in Joe Dexter (the aforementioned daughter is now stalking him on Facebook as he is "fit") - worked the room as if it was a stadium. Midway through the set the Oxford O2's legendary Arctic Air Conditioning system was cranked up to the max. I genuinely thought  the wall behind the bar had blown away - it was frankly f*king freezing.

I thought Orange were good, but Suburban Legend cranked it up another couple of notches.  I'd never heard of these guys before but they have to be one of the best party bands on the planet. Take a bit of the B52's mixed with James Brown's moves, Dan Reed Network's funky rock and some high energy ska and you might be somewhere near it.  Complete with Flying V guitar, bass, trombone, trumpet and drums they never let up, engaging with the audience , dancing, moving in unison. A surprising highlight was a cover of  "I just Can't Wait To Be King" - from The Lion King.  Really enjoyed it.  Shark Attack Centipede! (if you were there you'll get that!)


I did start to doubt that Bowling For Soup couldn't top Suburban Legends - but I needn't have worried. They rocked the place. I've been a fan for years but only seen the acoustic sets live - which you will know from our reviews are light-hearted affairs, where they often stop mid song to tell a joke or a story.  I am very pleased to report that the full electric experience is EXACTLY the same.  The gig flew by - I enjoyed every minute of it. I have no idea what they played because I was too busy singing along to make any notes but thanks to their setlist is below.  I do remember we had a couple of covers: the Fountains of Wayne song "Stacey's Mom" because "everyone thinks we wrote this song so we decided to steal the shit out of it" and "I wanna be Sedated" from the Ramones.  There was also a magnificent version of "Turbulence" in there somewhere.   Only BFS would stop mid song for a "musically enhanced bar break" where they went to bar and played Dio over the PA whilst they had a drink, then went back and picked up exactly where they left off.  Brilliant.

Loved it.


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