’I can’t stop ‘til the whole world knows my name,’ howls Patrick Stump, leaping onto a monitor like a lithe rock god, ‘we’ll go down in history, remember me for centuries!’
Is that the same Stump who was, just last decade, a podgy side-kick to FOB’s heart-throb bassist/lyricist Pete Wentz and frontman of the most lop-sided emo band on the planet?
It surely is, and Stump’s frumpiness isn’t the only thing that’s been shed since FOB went on an ill-defined hiatus in 2010, in the wake of their fan-baffling fourth album_ Folie A Deux_. Since reuniting in 2013 a layer or two of grunge grit has been wiped away too, exposing the brittle boyband beneath. They’re now leaner, shinier and more in-tune with their inner pop imps; at this tiny pre-arena tour fan show the likes of Irresistible, Biblical epic Centuries and the title track from their new album American Beauty/American Psycho come on as chart-friendly as any nugget of Bastille teen-bait.
Nestled next to infectious first-period hits such as Sugar, We’re Goin Down and This Ain’t A Scene, It’s An Arms Race, they highlight the fact that, like My Chemical Romance, FOB were always a band designed to ease their fans’ growing pains with sugared rock placebos, a muslin film of intellectual angst and anger laid over a well-greased radio-pop machine. It makes for a fun family night out, sure, but if they let any more of their substance dissolve then the whole world might know their name, but they risk slipping through history’s gaps.