Photo Credit: Hunter Wallace
Last night we walked into a less-than-packed Lemmy some time after doors opened. There was a sea of check shirts, dyed hair and everyone was wearing strictly either Docs or Vans. The average age was probably about 16 – strange, considering the headlining band were formed ten years ago, making the majority of their audience actual children at the time. But hey, American pop-punk is having a comeback and I for one am more than happy about it, even if it’s main consumers are pre-teens (scene kids are still a thing guys).
The music started with female-fronted band from Kansas, Beautiful Bodies. It was clear they were unknown to most of the crowd, but nonetheless everyone was having a good time as singer Alicia Solombrino got us warmed up with massive crowd interaction, supported by the lead guitarist charging onto the floor on the first song. A bit much for the first song maybe, but I enjoyed their enthusiasm and they set a good vibe for the gig.
Next up was Have Mercy, an all-bearded band from Baltimore. Considerably more moody than Beautiful Bodies, but also notably better musicians. The audience reception was obviously positive with nods of “yeah i’m loving this” and “who are they again?” going around. Their brief set was a pleasantly surprising and special moment of the night. Who knew Exeter loved burly American blokes slurring into sweaty microphones so much? Well, we do.
The Lemon Grove was pretty packed by the time The Maine were due on stage, and the energy soared when lanky singer John O’Callaghan launched into their pop-driven single English Girls (in fact the only song of theirs I actually know but I love it). Everything remained on a high as they stormed through their set, a mix of stuff from their new album and old classics like Right Girl and Everything I Ask For. Only knowing one song didn’t stop me enjoying it as much as everyone else – a sign of a great set. Also it was nice to see how genuinely appreciative the band was, as they continued to show by hanging around and talking to fans after the show; even in the cold and rain.
A few people scattered after The Maine’s set, making me a wonder if people had only come for them and not actually for Mayday Parade, but those thoughts were banished as soon as the headline act walked on stage. This was a bloody good live show.
“Ten years ago when we first started, all I ever wanted was to play shows just like this one so thank you guys for making that happen.” – The words of a genuinely grateful and humbled Derek Sanders.
It was kind of weird that The Lemon Grove, with all it’s horror-stories of Saturday lemmy, turned out to be the perfect intimate venue for this gig. A highpoint was ‘Three Cheers for Five Years’, seemingly everyone’s favourite Mayday song (including mine), hands were in the air and hardly a phone screen in sight. ‘Letting Go’ and ‘Terrible Things’ were the heart-warming moments of the set, highlighting the band’s emotional song writing. I don’t know if ‘lovely’ is an odd adjective to describe a rock concert but, that’s what it was. Lovely. And a great concert was followed by the perfect ending as I had a chat with Sanders outside, who, by the way, is one of the sweetest people I’ve ever met.