put on your war paint
Fall Out Boy @ Qudos Bank Arena, Sydney NSW Australia 02/03/2018 written by Brendan Lewis
This ain’t a scene, it’s a god-dam arms race, a battle with young volcanoes, US alt-rock heavy-weights Fall Out Boy, to see if they can emerge from this fight against the 20,000 or so fans here at Qudos Bank Arena, a champion on their quest to become immortals in the rock ’n’ roll world! I have witnessed a Fall Out Boy concert previously, this time being in conjunction with their latest high-voltage album, ‘M.A.N.I.A’, I have a feeling this battle will be remembered for centuries to come!
Let’s light em’ up!
As the lights go down and the crowd bursts into applause, the on-stage screen teases us with graphics of some sort before the band take to the frontline, and with a rush of flames shooting up from the stage, the first fight has started! The opening track brought forth with the flames, is the dark violins and pounding drums of ‘The Phoenix’, starting the energy high! The mix of sound in this arena can be temperamental at times, but tonight the mix is spot on, with all sounds balanced evenly and Patrick’s vocals shining bright through it, making the sound so much more authentic and enjoyable! As the raging dance/head bang-provoking beat in the chorus hits, with Patrick’s voice rising in dynamics to vicious shockwaves, the lights sweep up bringing up with them more towers of fire from the stage. In the songs’ bridge, Patrick instigates a clap along from the audience and the pulsating beat with the lighting in sync, commanding everyones’ full devotion to the show. Finally with Patrick’s sustained “hey” commencing the final chorus, the crowd in front of him jump to the beat and sing along to Patrick’s vocal improvisations in the last chorus, making this song a perfect shot for an opening song!
“The war is won”, despite those lyrics and the incredible energy-heights in the first song, this war is far from won, because this crusade heads straight into the next Irresistible song, followed by fan favourite ‘Hum Hallelujah’. ‘Irresistible’s energy might not pack quite the same punch as ‘The Phoenix’ musically, but Patrick’s voice now a biting brutality, plus the songs’ marching drum beat as the rest of the band all rock out and move around the stage as if evading bullets, riles the crowd right up! ‘Hum Hallelujah’ charges us further into the battle with it’s up-beat pop-punk vibe, with wild lighting prompting fist pumps galore straight away, and the guitar/bass in the songs’ intro being set off with a shot of fire up from the stage! In the songs’ bridge, Pete (I think) claps his hands to the beat, commanding the audience to do so too, as the arena is filled with an echoing chorus of thousands of voices all singing “hallelujah”, before Patrick’s larger than life sustained note that connects the songs’ bridge and final chorus charges the song into it’s final assault.
After, the band seem to already think they’re immortals, with psychedelic graphics on the screens, and incredibly well-controlled high notes from Patrick in the songs’ chorus, the band take a quick time out to recoup, reload and report to their recruits in the audience. “What are you writing soldier?!” Pete asks…. ok, he didn’t actually say ‘soldier’. A fellow comrade of mine next to me informs me that Pete is actually addressing me! I then reply with “review!” then quickly slip a business card out and hold it out to him, which Pete asks a security guard to pass it to him, reads the card, then tells me he’ll definitely check it out! I’m gobsmacked, even in a large arena such as this filled with thousands of people, and a flurry of lights, the band still manage to connect with people on such an intimate level, keenly observing, scoping out the soldiers in the field, waiting to take the shot…. friendly fire of course. After Pete hands me a drumstick as requested on my sign, he then tells us an inspirational story to raise the team spirit, that leads into the next wave of combat.
This assent featuring opening track off ‘M.A.N.I.A’ ‘Stay Frosty Royal Milk Tea’, timeless classic ‘Centuries’ with Patrick’s vocals reaching terrifying might in perfect accuracy to the song, as well as there being no auto-tune effect to his voice in the songs’ bridge, letting him improvise and make his vocals shine! Finally for this wave of combat, is feel-good track ‘Save Rock And Roll’ originally featuring Sir Elton John. ‘Save Rock And Roll’ is a pleasant well-needed contrast from the previous onslaught of energy, with the vibe changing to a steady beat, major-key setting, with Patrick’s chief-commander voice reigning down on us in all it’s full glory. Even with the song building up dramatically as it does in the recording and Patrick pulling off Elton’s part in the songs perfectly, plus the grenades of musical energy in the show previously, the crowd are calm…. too calm. Although they’re thoroughly enjoying it, here at the front barrier, I was expecting to be crying out in pain like a wounded soldier on the battlefield from all the pushing and moshing, judging from previous experience of a Fall Out Boy concert and the fact that there were a couple of girls before the music even started, screaming so loud and excruciatingly, that I legitimately thought someone was hacking off a limb or something! I was nearly ready to call out “man-down! man-down!’ But no, I even have space to reach down and scratch my ass! I mean, get my phone out of my pocket. This may be due to my long curly hair flying everywhere as I rock out being a deterrent for people around me.
Pete now has a chat TO us, rather than AT us like some artists do, about the next song, and just like a drill sergeant telling the platoon “breaks over ladies! Now move-move-move!” the energy is lifted right back up with ‘Last Of The Real Ones’ and for the rest of the set. ‘Last Of The Real Ones’ is clearly a fan favourite, with everyone singing along to Patrick’s dynamic vocals more loudly then previously, while the band all rock out fiercely and move around the stage spraying bullets of energy into the audience. Up now is ‘Young And Menace’ which I don’t normally like admittedly, off the bands’ new album, but in this case with the intro being renditioned as a piano solo with Patrick before the full band join in, it does go down nicely even for me and really shows off Patrick’s wide vocal range. All but Andy on drums leave the stage now, and let Andy have his moment in the spotlight, showing amazing camaraderie, as Andy now goes wild in a blaze of glory, stunning the audience with an extravagant drum solo to backing tracks while the rest of the band reload and go over their strategy.
A cartoon-sounding video takes hold on the screen on stage, which my friend tells me is of them dressed up in costumes or something, to raise the hype in the audience as the band re-emerge for the final frontier where the big guns come out, like infectious hit showing off Patrick’s ability to hit both stunning high and low trembling lows, ‘I Don’t Care’ which gets the crowd bopping and jumping, shaken dance provoking rock anthem ‘Dance Dance’, optimistic final stand ‘Sugar, We’re Going Down’, wild pop-punk/rock anthem of immense notoriety ‘This Ain’t A Scene, It’s An Arms Race’ which the crowd all fist pump to especially as Patrick pauses his singing to let the crowd take over after he sings “this ain’t a scene it’s a…”, my personal favourite, wicked flamethrower of high-intensity edgy rock ’n’ roll bite ‘Thnks Fr Th Mmrs’ and more. All of which with the enormous energy seen previously (blind pun intended) that makes my long curly hair fly around as I can’t help but to rock out, Pete connecting with his fans on a personal level even in a large-scale arena, perfectly mixed sound with killer riffs and thunderous bass lines, mass sing alongs and a rather forceful shot of streamers after a song, which I did not see coming!….. in any way shape or form.
Now just when you think the war is over, and the enemy has left with their tails between their legs, the band charge back on stage for one last confrontation (encore) initiated by heavy yet uplifting Thriller of a song with fist pumps/long curly hair flying galore, the shake a tail feather rock ’n’ roll sex-bomb ‘Uma Thurman’ filled with it’s catchy guitar riffs, ‘My Songs Know What You Did In The Dark (Light Em Up)’ which does not feature any pyro technics at all…. just kidding… of course it did, with a booming chorus of everyone singing the vocal hook with Patrick and me attempting to pull off the auto-tuned highs in the chorus (yes, it’s as hilarious as you’re imagining right now) and finally, like all Fall Out Boy shows are capped off, Fall Out Boy classic ‘Saturday’. ’Saturday’ gets the was-tame crowd jumping and fist pumping away more violently then before as they sing along, as the band race around the stage wildly for one last hurrah. Although it does sound like Patrick’s struggling with the vocals power in the chorus, most likely exhausted from the epic force he’s put into his voice for the rest of the show, this song is still a blast of might that ends the war (concert) on a massive high!
Explosive, exciting, thrilling, epic! Hopefully I’ve left you as blown away as the band left me and I’m sure the rest of their audience! This show was a perfect blend of old and new tracks from the band all executed accurately and brilliantly, plus the way the band connect with such a large crowd so intimately is truly remarkable! I really do believe these guys will be Immortals in the music industry, and will indeed be remembered for Centuries! Thanks for the memories guys!