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Bowling For Soup/Aquabats!/Army Of Freshmen: O2 Academy Brixton, London

Words: Diane Perlmutter, Pictures Robert Sutton
4th March 2018

bowling for soup

Ten years since the Get Happy Tour first came to the UK, it's time for a second jaunt, once more alongside close friends Army Of Freshmen, celebrating their 20th Anniversary. With Aquabats! touring the UK for the first time in 5 years, a night of celebration and nostalgia awaits.

Set for the Power of Three. there was already a great atmosphere going on from the off. Army Of Freshmen's set found a packed out capacity crowd all ready to party, arms in the air like they just don't care, already having the best time with so much more to come.

bowling for soup

A super quick turnaround and as the Aquabats! hit the stage I was laughing hysterically; I have never seen anything quite like it, all decked out in super-hero costumery.

We get songs about a cat with two heads, fighting sharks and pizza, the pace is fast and the theme is fun. Favourite track of the night for me is 'Hey Homies' with everyone singing along at this point in the show.
bowling for soup

For the fun finale it's 'Pool Party' time, and multiple inflatables were thrown into the crowd - beach balls, donuts, pizza slices, sharks, you name it. Definitely the most entertaining band I have ever seen on a stage.

And then, Soup it up boys and girls, it's time to go live to the boys in action, complete with onstage fan area and stage bar. Remember, if we're gonna be drunk enough to dance, good ale we seek! Or perhaps a Punk Rock 101 off the BFS Cocktail Menu.

We have surround crowd and are reminded that this whole show is being filmed for the forthcoming live DVD: "Please act like you like us and if you don't know the songs act like you do!"

bowling for soup

Are you freakin' kiddin' me… we love you! And we're off, surrounded by the heart-warming sight of young lovers holding hands and smooching along to 'Emily' with the majority singing in unison.

Jaret Reddick pipes "We've made it so big, literally" the first of many self-reference jokes about weight gain, alongside guitarist Chris Burney, allegedly the "veteran of fatism after being on a diet for 40 years".

bowling for soup

The great thing about doing 'Drunk Enough To Dance' in its entirety is that we get 'Girl All The Bad Guys Want' this early in the set, with some super deluxe hip-swivelling and twirls from Chris B. On the other hand, Jaret could do this show with one ear, "The Van Gogh of punk rock". The one liners a-cometh, each packing a punch, with every song a crowd pleaser.

The band, complete with Erik Chandler on bass and Gary Wiseman on semi-revolving drum kit plough on through hit after hit. 'Life After Lisa' takes me back to 1992 when Eddie Vedder was king, some of these songs getting an airing for the first time since their conception in 2002.

We have one ballad which literally lights up the Academy, 'Where To Begin', a sea of mobile phone lights dancing in a smoke filled haze, a glorious sight.

Mid-way through the set we have the delicious Diamond Dave's 'Yankee Rose' to tantalize our ears, while a random Soups/Bats! photo opportunity happens when a fan already onstage as part of the bar crowd in full Aquabat! regalia got to join in the fun with an exclusive photo with the band.

bowling for soup

Before long we're waving at the band you can wave to - yes, it's official - and soon afterwards the all familiar chant begins, "Bowling For Soup, Hey".

You can see that Jaret is overwhelmed before announcing "This is the first time EVER that that has happened spontaneously". The countdown to 1985 continues, with the digital clock seemingly stuck at 59 minutes, meaning more music for us, we head into my personal favourite, 'Today Is Gonna Be A Great Day', the theme tune to Phineas & Ferb.

Further down the line we get another favourite by way of 'High School Never Ends'. To open the encore the boys do a rousing rendition of 'Ohio (Come Back To Texas)' with Chris opening the song by balancing his guitar on his head, some great interaction with the crowd and then mid-song the boys kick it back at the bar while Army of Freshmen take the helm and wrap up the song.

bowling for soup

There was an unforgettable moment when super-fan Deryck, travelling all the way from Poland, held up a sign which read "LET ME PLAY 1985". What he didn't know is that he was about to be invited onstage by the band to rock his socks off on guitar and sing.

This guy rocked it, the crowd went nuts and confetti filled the air. This guy will be smiling for at least 800 miles on his way back home, his head in the clouds on more than one level. What a way to end.

Check it out here on this audience filmed footage:

Pre-release orders of this live show on DVD, Double Vinyl or Double CD here are available now. All copies will be autographed, with an expected release early summer 2018.


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