Huge bands playing tiny London venues is all the rage these days. Most recently, we’ve had Bring Me The Horizon warming up for their Wembley Arena show with one-off date at the Underworld. Foo Fighters blew our faces of at the House of Vans skate venue and Fall Out Boy? Well, there’s been dates at the Underworld… the Islington Academy, the Islington Assembly Hall – the list goes on and on. Wait… what?
Yep, the Chicago arena rockers bloody love putting on intimate shows over here. For the the lucky 430 fans who managed to get a ticket for their Islington Assembly Hall show, it was a night they’ll likely never forget.
Taking to the stage to stadium-volume screams, Fall Out Boy kicked straight into The Phoenix, guns blazing with its, ‘Put on your war paint’ battlecry and pounding rhythms. Sadly, the group weren’t joined by regular guitarist Joe Trohman, who made the decision to stay home due to the recent passing of his mother. He was replaced on the night by his guitar tech Josh Newton – formerly of Every Time I Die, From Autumn to Ashes and Shiner – so Stump, Wentz and Hurley were more than adequately backed up in their brother’s absence.
After Wentz declared that the baying crowd looked “irresistible”, FOB wasted no time airing new material from forthcoming album American Beauty/American Psycho. The first track off the album, Irresistible (ah, good one Pete), sounded even bigger live than it does on the record, with towering horns and soaring harmonies complimented by some beefy guitars.
Over the years, Fall Out Boy have honed their live performance to perfection and Patrick Stump’s onstage persona these days is a million miles away from the shy, bespectacled frontman of years gone by. His voice is outstanding as he commands the audience on This Ain’t A Scene…, taking his mic off the stand and thrusting it towards the 400 or so fans screaming every word back to him. Keeping the hits coming, they smash out Alone Together, whose anthemic chorus just gets better with age and Sugar, We’re Going Down is greeted by a rapturous reception from the crowd.
Wentz is on fine form throughout the show, offering up the fable of the scorpion and the frog before they launch into newbie The Kids Aren’t Alright. It seems as though they’ve ramped up the stadium rock/pop elements of their sound even more on the new material, so don’t be expecting a return to their old sound any time soon. The best part about this transformation? The fact that it really, really works, both on record and in the live setting.
Far from done, Fall Out Boy gave the audience more gold, with the new-age campfire classic Young Volcanoes getting sung back to them with boundless joy before drummer Andy Hurley blasted out an understated drum solo that led in to Dance, Dance. Even the DJ-Otzi mimicking American Beauty/American Psycho sounded like a genuine rock anthem live, despite its borderline ridiculous dance beat/woah woah combos.
The lucky audience members didn’t let their energy levels drop below 110% throughout the show either, almost drowning out Stump on Grand Theft Autumn and I Don’t Care, whilst making a finale of My Songs Know What You Did in the Dark (Light Em Up) monumental in scale.
After leaving the stage for a brief time, the band came back on to more deafening screams as they charged into the epic Centuries, which sounded massive live. It’s all well and good seeing Fall Out Boy in a small venue, but these new songs belong in arenas and stadiums.
The night was a total celebration of a new chapter for Fall Out Boy and a double-hitter of Thnks Fr Th Mmrs and Saturday (complete with Wentz launching himself into the crowd) ensured that every person in the room left the building utterly blown away and counting the days until the Chicagoans return to our shores in October.
Fall Out Boy, Live at the Islington Assembly Hall, January 14, 2015. Photos: Will Ireland