30th August | O2 Academy
Photos: Craig Simmonds
Squeezing three bands into an early 10pm curfew show on a co-headline tour is something of an impressive feat. It just goes to prove the dedication and professionalism of those involved, artists and venue employees alike. What’s even more impressive is when this goes down without a hitch.
Whilst I have not been a Frank Iero fan, his performance that evening has made me a convert. I completely understand the appeal now. He’s an extremely knowledgeable performer through-and-through, with charm, confidence and massive charisma that translates to knowing just what makes his audience tick. His casual tossing of guitar picks for the audience to clamour over, the heaped adulation for bands he’s sharing the bill with, and just enough modest audience interaction: this is a man that’s clearly devoted to what he does and puts his all into each and every show.
‘World Destroyer’ from 2016’s Parachutes was a particular highlight that exemplified the kinetic energy Iero brought to the venue, as his loyal (mostly teenage, but undoubtedly hardcore) fans moshed gleefully before him. This positivity from such discordant music clearly spread amidst the venue, as even those afraid to get sucked into a flurry of colliding bodies tentatively bopped around the eye of the storm.
Unfortunately, the co-headline being what it was – Laura Jane Grace and Iero perhaps not being obvious bedfellows – you were bound to attract people that were there for one or the other. Therefore, an enthusiastic Iero requesting the audience to sing along on ‘BFF’ didn’t have the effect it should’ve. There were a lot of confused faces that seemed to read, “I hope he didn’t mean me.”
Likewise, this disparity in attendance was felt for Grace’s set too. Many left after Iero closed on ‘Joyriding’. As such, there were quite noticeable gaps in the room; all the more obvious from the size of the venue. That said, Grace put on a stellar performance that only proved fools of those calling it an early night.
When she introduced herself and the rest of the band as “professional touring musicians” early in the set, you could reach the same assumption just merely hearing them play. It was clearly not the work of amateur punks on their first runaround. Less wild than Iero’s set, Grace and her Devouring Mothers still rocked it as a three-piece. Grace on guitar took a slightly stage-left presence to highlight her bandmates on drums and bass respectively.
Usually, the switching out for an acoustic guitar would be a groan-worthy moment, a kind of gig cliché that I’m sure I’m not alone in finding soporific, at the very least for breaking pace. However, when Grace broke into ‘The Apology Song’, introducing it as written for her daughter, it was impossible not to feel something special. Even a regular Grinch could’ve felt their heart grow thrice its size from such sincerity. It was a highlight of the set, if not the night as a whole.
See the video for ‘I Hate Chicago’ here: